Deviated Septum and Rhinoplasty: Symptoms and Surgery

Understanding Deviated Septum and How Rhinoplasty Can Help

A deviated septum is a common nasal condition where the thin wall (nasal septum) between the nostrils is displaced or deviated to one side. While many individuals may have a slightly deviated septum without experiencing any symptoms, for others, it can lead to various issues such as breathing difficulties, sinus infections, and sleep disturbances. In severe cases, a deviated septum can even contribute to conditions like sleep apnea.

What Causes a Deviated Septum?

The deviation of the septum can occur during fetal development or due to trauma, such as a nasal injury during childbirth or accidents later in life. Genetics may also play a role, as some individuals are born with a deviated septum or are predisposed to developing one.

Symptoms of a Deviated Septum

  1. Nasal Congestion: One of the primary symptoms is difficulty breathing through one or both nostrils due to blockage caused by the deviation.
  2. Nosebleeds: The uneven airflow through the nasal passages can cause the nasal membranes to dry out, increasing the risk of nosebleeds.
  3. Facial Pain: The deviation can lead to pressure imbalances in the sinuses, resulting in facial pain or headaches, particularly around the forehead, cheeks, and eyes.
  4. Snoring: The obstruction in the nasal passages can cause snoring, especially during sleep when the muscles are relaxed.
  5. Sleep Disruptions: Individuals with a deviated septum may experience disrupted sleep patterns, including frequent awakenings or difficulty staying asleep.
  6. Recurrent Sinus Infections: Blocked nasal passages can impede proper drainage, leading to recurrent sinus infections.

Diagnosing a Deviated Septum

If you suspect you have a deviated septum, consulting an ENT (ear, nose, and throat) specialist is crucial. They can perform a physical examination of your nasal passages using a nasal speculum and may recommend additional tests such as a nasal endoscopy or a CT scan to assess the severity of the deviation.

Treatment Options

  1. Medications: Over-the-counter decongestants or antihistamines can help alleviate symptoms such as nasal congestion and inflammation. However, these are often temporary solutions and may not address the underlying issue.
  2. Nasal Septoplasty: For individuals experiencing significant symptoms, surgical intervention may be necessary. Nasal septoplasty is a common surgical procedure aimed at straightening the septum and restoring normal airflow through the nasal passages.

Understanding Rhinoplasty and Its Role in Treating Deviated Septum

Rhinoplasty, commonly known as a "nose job," is a surgical procedure performed to reshape or resize the nose for aesthetic or functional reasons. While rhinoplasty is often associated with cosmetic enhancements, it can also be used to correct structural abnormalities such as a deviated septum.

How Rhinoplasty Addresses Deviated Septum

During rhinoplasty, the surgeon may perform septoplasty simultaneously to correct the deviated septum. This involves making incisions inside the nose to access the septum and then straightening or repositioning it to improve airflow. In some cases, cartilage grafts may be used to support the septum and prevent future deviations.

Surgical Procedure for Deviated Septum

  1. Preoperative Evaluation: Before the surgery, the patient undergoes a comprehensive evaluation, including a physical examination and imaging tests to assess the extent of the deviation and plan the surgical approach.
  2. Anesthesia: Rhinoplasty with septoplasty is typically performed under general anesthesia to ensure the patient remains comfortable and pain-free throughout the procedure.
  3. Incisions: The surgeon makes small incisions inside the nostrils to access the septum without leaving any visible scars.
  4. Septal Correction: Using specialized instruments, the surgeon carefully straightens the deviated septum, removing any excess cartilage or bone if necessary.
  5. Closure: Once the septum is realigned, the incisions are closed with dissolvable sutures, and nasal packing may be placed to support the nasal structures during the initial healing phase.
  6. Recovery: Most patients can return home the same day as the surgery, although they will need to follow postoperative care instructions provided by their surgeon. Recovery typically involves mild discomfort, swelling, and congestion, which can be managed with pain medication and nasal irrigation.

Benefits of Rhinoplasty for Deviated Septum

  1. Improved Breathing: By correcting the deviated septum, rhinoplasty can significantly improve airflow through the nasal passages, relieving symptoms such as nasal congestion and difficulty breathing.
  2. Enhanced Sleep Quality: Many individuals with a deviated septum experience sleep disturbances, including snoring and sleep apnea. Rhinoplasty can help alleviate these issues, allowing for better sleep quality and reduced daytime fatigue.
  3. Reduced Sinus Infections: By restoring proper nasal drainage, rhinoplasty can lower the risk of recurrent sinus infections, improving overall sinus health and quality of life.
  4. Aesthetic Enhancement: In addition to functional improvements, rhinoplasty can also enhance the appearance of the nose, creating a more balanced and harmonious facial profile.


Deviated septum is a common nasal condition that can lead to various symptoms and negatively impact quality of life. While non-surgical treatments may provide temporary relief, surgical intervention such as rhinoplasty with septoplasty offers a long-term solution for correcting the underlying structural abnormality and improving nasal function. If you are experiencing symptoms of a deviated septum, consulting with a qualified ENT specialist is the first step toward finding an appropriate treatment plan tailored to your needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Deviated Septum and Rhinoplasty

What is a deviated septum?

A deviated septum is a common condition where the thin wall (nasal septum) between the nostrils is displaced or deviated to one side. It can result from factors such as genetics, trauma, or developmental abnormalities.

What are the symptoms of a deviated septum?

Symptoms of a deviated septum may include nasal congestion, difficulty breathing through one or both nostrils, nosebleeds, facial pain or headaches, snoring, sleep disruptions, and recurrent sinus infections.

How is a deviated septum diagnosed?

A deviated septum is diagnosed through a physical examination by an ENT specialist. Additional tests such as nasal endoscopy or CT scans may be recommended to assess the severity of the deviation.

Can a deviated septum cause sleep apnea?

Yes, in some cases, a deviated septum can contribute to sleep apnea by obstructing airflow through the nasal passages, leading to breathing difficulties during sleep.

What is deviated septum surgery?

Deviated septum surgery, also known as septoplasty, is a surgical procedure aimed at straightening the septum to improve airflow through the nasal passages. It may be performed alone or in combination with rhinoplasty for both functional and aesthetic purposes.