My Struggle With A Blocked Nose (To Op Or Not To Op)

Updated: Jun 10, 2021

sinus surgery polyps deviated septum swollen turbinate
No one likes to go under the knife.. But this is why I did so and the process.

So a week plus ago I had my septoplasty and turbinate reduction surgery to put an end to my blocked nose (which I originally thought was sinus issues) and interestingly, found out that it is a more common problem in Singapore than I thought.

Some readers who are following my FaceBook updates came to know about this and many similar questions were fielded to me by both friends and fans.

So, I'll go completely off topic this time round to share about my surgery experience which hopefully helps some of you take that leap of faith if you are going through the same and sitting on the decision fence, just like I was.

In the past, I had relied on nasal sprays and irrigation netty pots to de-congest my nasal passages but they didn't do much help after awhile.

And in recent months, my blocked nose became worse and I could feel the incremental negative impact it was having on my life, energy level and focus.

I couldn't work or play as hard as I wanted to. It was getting harder to sleep well and often I felt fatigued (and dry mouthed) even right after waking up.

Despite not having done sleep apnea tests, I guess it was because I wasn't getting good quality sleep as a result of unknowingly waking up repeatedly at night to catch deeper breaths or to lubricate my uncomfortably dry mouth with saliva.

Some days, while preparing for bed time, I could feel an acute shortness of breath which was probably due to my compounded shallow breathing or lack of breathing when I get too focused on something.

Since then, and in the hopes to self-medicate and hopefully avoid surgery, I started reading up and found out more about the benefits of nose breathing vs mouth breathing and became sold that I really needed to undergo the knife to solve this issue once and for all.

Just to summarise some of my findings for you mouth breathers out there, these are some benefits of nose breathing and why I decided to take the plunge.

Benefits of Nose Breathing

1. Nose breathing helps kill bacteria and prevent infections (In times like these, it's more critical than ever!)

2. Provides better blood flow and lung volumes

3. Reduces hypertension and stress

4. Better oxygen absorption and workout performance

5. Strengthens the diaphragm (So hopefully I can sound more Jacky Cheung-ish over time)

6. Strengthens your heart, lungs, brain and other vital organs

7. Improves your appearance over time as you're less tired (So I can look fresh like Hyun Bin)

hyun bin
Disappointingly, I didn't wake up looking more like this. I do sound less nasal though.

Prior to my decision to consult a doctor, I did some self diagnosis with advanced medical equipment such as a bathroom mirror and my iPhone light, and thought I had nasal polyps as I saw reddish swollen bumps in my nose that constricted my nasal passage.

And also, having read up on a few possible issues that I could be facing such as a deviated septum (crooked nose), sinusitis and allergies, nasal polyps seemed to require the least intrusive treatment of the lot and quietly I was hoping that it would be my case.

However, I had a nagging feeling a deviated septum might be the case as I could tell my nose wasn't symmetrical.

After checking with my brother in law, Allan Lee, from PIAS, who by the way is someone I would highly recommend for his reliability and quick response, and takes care of all my insurance matters, I realised that I could only choose Aviva's panel of specialists from their site (

Fortunately, they had plenty of options for me to choose from.

Scrolling through the list, I shortlisted 2 doctors whom weren't available and finally came to one who was. Thankfully, I had a good experience with Dr Lim Ing Ruen and her staff, specifically Jolene.

nasal endoscopy singapore
Feels alittle uncomfortable but nothing painful or severe.

Fast forward to consultation day and I was treated to a front-row seat of a nasal endoscopy down my sinus and nasal cavities and even a chance to see my vocal cords in action.

What is a nasal endoscopy? Well, it is simply a camera fixed onto a flexible thin tube and inserted into your nose and moved around to see what the problem is.

I told Dr Lim about my self-diagnosis and she corrected and informed me of my worst fear - It was a badly deviated septum and turbinate hypertrophy.

Turbinate hypertrophy refers to an excessive growth or enlargement of the turbinates, which are bony structures located inside the nose. To be honest,