What is Nasal Valve Reconstruction?
The nasal valve forms the bridge between the bone of the upper nose and the nasal tip. It makes up the entrance of the nose just past the nostrils. Cartilage on each side of the nose may weaken and collapse on one or both sides when a person is breathing in. This is known as nasal valve collapse, and it can create a nasal blockage, mouth breathing, snoring, and sleep apnea. At Texas Sinus & Snoring, Dr. Cilento performs nasal valve reconstruction surgery to correct this problem and return proper airflow.
What Is the Nasal Valve?
The nasal valve has an internal and external valve on each side of the nose. They create a relatively narrow airway in the middle and lower parts of the nose. The valves often work to limit airflow. This seems counterintuitive, but resistance in the nose is important to give you the sensation that you’re breathing. Plus, by slowing the flow, this allows you to warm, humidify, and purify the air before it enters the trachea and then the lungs.
What Happens When the Nasal Valve Collapses?
The nasal valve can collapse when the cartilage (usually the upper valve) is weakened. This often happens following cosmetic nose surgery (rhinoplasty), where the cartilage in the valve has been narrowed for aesthetic reasons.
When the valve collapses on inhalation, this restricts air intake, leading to snoring, mouth breathing, and other problems.
Causes of Nasal Valve Collapse
- Previous cosmetic rhinoplasty
- Nasal trauma or fracture
- Congenital defect in the nasal cartilage
- Deviated septum
What Is Nasal Valve Reconstruction?
This relatively straightforward procedure is meant to permanently correct a patient’s trouble breathing. The incisions are usually made from within the nose, so there isn’t any scarring.
In most cases, cartilage grafting is used in one or both of the internal and external nasal valves. These are called spreader grafts in the upper internal valves and alar batten grafts in the external valves. To make room for the grafts, Dr. Cilento creates a pocket on each sidewall of the nose. Sometimes, sutures can be used in lieu of grafts to support and suspend the existing cartilage to keep it from collapsing.
Am I a Candidate for Nasal Valve Reconstruction?
If you think you may have nasal valve collapse, come to see Dr. Cilento at Texas Sinus & Snoring. He’ll ask about any previous nasal surgeries, will examine your nose, and will use a nasal endoscope to have a detailed view of your nasal valves and airways.
There is a test you can perform yourself that will give you an idea if you may have nasal valve collapse. Pull your cheek upward on the side where you are having difficulty breathing (or both sides). If this seems to enable you to breathe more freely, your nasal valve could be the problem.
Nasal Valve Reconstruction Recovery
Reconstruction surgery takes just 30-45 minutes for Dr. Cilento. Afterward, you will have minor discomfort for the first two days, but the pain is not acute. Nasal bleeding is common on the first day. There will also be some crusting on the inside of your nose at the incision locations. Outside there will be localized swelling. All of this improves gradually over the next 7-10 days.
This is not a difficult recovery, and patients can return to normal activities one day after their surgery.
Risks of Nasal Reconstruction Surgery
This is a well-tolerated procedure. Patients will usually have some bruising and swelling, and there is a minor risk of infection. The main potential side effect/complication of this surgery is that the nose may become slightly wider in the mid-portion of the nose. This is due to the grafted cartilage, but the difference in width is very minor and may not be noticeable to others. Dr. Cilento will make this as minimal as possible, while still improving airflow through your nasal valves.
Symptoms of Nasal Valve Collapse
When a person has a nasal valve collapse, he or she has difficulty inhaling through the nose. In some cases, the nose can take on a pinched appearance, as the collapse happens. Patients often have pronounced nasal congestion.
Results of Nasal Valve Reconstruction
Surgical reconstruction is extremely effective. It allows the patient to have normal airflow through the nose. This will often correct issues with sleep apnea, loud snoring, and the tendency for mouth breathing.