Does Septum Surgery Change Your Voice?
I have had difficulty breathing through my nose for many years. I went to an ENT who told me that my septum was deviated. She recommended I have it repaired with a surgery. I’m really concerned because I am a singer. Will the septum surgery affect my voice?
Septum surgery should not affect your voice negatively at all.
To understand why, you need to understand where your voice comes from. Most singers understand that their vocal cords are the source of their sound. They understand that injuring your vocal cord will worsen the singing voice. The vocal cords are located in the neck, behind the Adam’s apple.
What few people understand is that the sound of the vocal cords alone does not have any lustre, tone, or color. Healthy cords are necessary for good sound because they are the source of the vibrations in the air. If the vibrations are irregular due to vocal cord damage, you will sound hoarse. But what really gives color and beauty to the voice are the structures above the vocal cords.
These structures are called resonators and include the:
- Space behind the nose (nasopharynx)
The throat and mouth combined are often referred to as the vocal tract. The shape of your individual resonators, especially your vocal tract, will allow sound to bounce around in your head, adding tones and color to the vocal cord vibrations. This is why, when you have a bad cold and are congested, your voice changes. Your nose is stuffy and so the vibrations cannot bounce around in your nose. You lose the color that your nose space would normally add to the voice.
Septoplasty is the procedure that straightens the septum in the nose. The septum is a normal structure divides the nose into two halves. It is often deviated to one side or the other.
When the septum is straightened surgically, it allows air to pass more easily through the nose. As air passes through the nose, it resonates through the nose and sinuses. This adds nasal and sinus color and lustre to the voice. In singers with severe septal deviations, this results in voice improvement.
However, in many singers, there is no change in the voice because enough air had been flowing through the nose prior to surgery to permit some degree of nasal resonance.
More information on septoplasty can be found here.
- Septum surgery is done to straighten the septum in the nose to allow better airflow through the nose
- Septoplasty will not worsen, and often can improve the voice.
- Most often, the voice remains unchanged.
Read patient stories about Dr. Reena Gupta from The Division of Voice at the Osborne Head and Neck Institute.
To learn more about Dr. Reena Gupta, click here.