Understanding septorhinoplasty: a comprehensive guide

Understanding septorhinoplasty: a comprehensive guide

Septorhinoplasty, often referred to as "nose job surgery," is a surgical procedure that combines two techniques: septoplasty and rhinoplasty. While rhinoplasty focuses on reshaping or resizing the external appearance of the nose for cosmetic reasons, septoplasty corrects the internal structure of the nose, specifically the nasal septum—a thin wall that divides the nasal cavity into two passages. Septorhinoplasty aims to improve both the aesthetic appearance and functional aspects of the nose, making it one of the most versatile procedures in facial plastic surgery.

Understanding the Nasal Septum

Before delving into septorhinoplasty, it's essential to understand the nasal septum's role and how deviations can impact nasal function. The nasal septum consists of cartilage and bone, and ideally, it should be positioned centrally, dividing the nasal passages equally. However, deviations in the septum are common, with varying degrees of severity. A deviated septum can result from factors such as genetics, trauma, or developmental abnormalities, leading to symptoms like nasal congestion, difficulty breathing, and sinus issues.

What is Rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty, derived from the Greek words "rhinos" (nose) and "plastikos" (to shape), is a surgical procedure aimed at altering the external appearance of the nose. It can address concerns such as a prominent dorsal hump, wide nostrils, asymmetry, or a drooping nasal tip. Rhinoplasty can be performed using either an open or closed technique, depending on the complexity of the case and the surgeon's preference. During the procedure, the surgeon makes incisions either inside the nostrils (closed rhinoplasty) or across the columella, the strip of tissue between the nostrils (open rhinoplasty), to access and reshape the nasal structures.

What is Septoplasty?

Septoplasty is a surgical procedure focused solely on correcting a deviated septum to improve nasal airflow and alleviate associated symptoms. During septoplasty, the surgeon makes incisions inside the nostrils to access the septum, then straightens or repositions it by removing excess cartilage or bone. Septoplasty is typically performed under general anesthesia and can be done as a standalone procedure or in conjunction with rhinoplasty to address both functional and aesthetic concerns simultaneously.

The Concept of Septorhinoplasty

Septorhinoplasty combines the principles of rhinoplasty and septoplasty into a single surgical procedure. It allows for the correction of both external nasal deformities and internal nasal obstruction in one comprehensive operation. By addressing both functional and aesthetic aspects of the nose simultaneously, septorhinoplasty offers numerous benefits, including improved nasal breathing, enhanced nasal aesthetics, and overall facial harmony.

Indications for Septorhinoplasty

Septorhinoplasty may be recommended for individuals who have both cosmetic concerns about the appearance of their nose and functional issues related to nasal obstruction. Common indications for septorhinoplasty include:
  1. Nasal Deviation: Significant deviations in the nasal bridge or septum that affect nasal symmetry and facial appearance.
  2. Nasal Obstruction: Difficulty breathing through the nose due to structural abnormalities such as a deviated septum, nasal valve collapse, or enlarged turbinates.
  3. Cosmetic Concerns: Desire for aesthetic improvements such as reducing the size of the nose, refining the nasal tip, or correcting asymmetry.

The Septorhinoplasty Procedure

Septorhinoplasty is a complex surgical procedure that requires careful planning and precise execution. The surgery is typically performed under general anesthesia and may take several hours to complete, depending on the extent of the corrections needed. The basic steps involved in septorhinoplasty include:
  1. Preoperative Evaluation: Before the surgery, the patient undergoes a thorough preoperative assessment, including a physical examination, nasal endoscopy, and imaging studies (e.g., CT scan) to evaluate nasal anatomy and plan the surgical approach.
  2. Incisions: Depending on the surgical technique chosen (open or closed), the surgeon makes incisions either inside the nostrils or across the columella to access the nasal structures.
  3. Septoplasty: If septal deviation is present, the surgeon performs septoplasty to straighten the nasal septum, remove obstructions, and improve nasal airflow.
  4. Rhinoplasty: The surgeon then proceeds with the aesthetic corrections, which may include reshaping the nasal bones, refining the nasal tip, narrowing the nostrils, or addressing any other cosmetic concerns.
  5. Closure: Once the desired changes are made, the incisions are meticulously closed with sutures, and nasal packing or splints may be placed inside the nose to support the newly shaped nasal structures during the initial healing phase.

Recovery and Postoperative Care

Recovery after septorhinoplasty varies from patient to patient but generally involves some degree of swelling, bruising, and nasal congestion for the first few weeks. Patients are advised to follow postoperative instructions provided by their surgeon, which may include:
  • Nasal Care: Keeping the nasal passages clean by gently irrigating with saline solution and avoiding blowing the nose forcefully.
  • Medications: Taking prescribed pain medications, antibiotics, and nasal decongestants as directed to manage discomfort and prevent infection.
  • Activity Restrictions: Avoiding strenuous activities, heavy lifting, and activities that could risk injuring the nose during the initial healing phase.
  • Follow-up Visits: Attending scheduled follow-up appointments with the surgeon to monitor healing progress, remove any packing or sutures, and address any concerns or complications.
Most patients can return to work and resume light activities within one to two weeks after septorhinoplasty, although it may take several months for swelling to fully subside and final results to become apparent.

Potential Risks and Complications

While septorhinoplasty is generally considered safe and effective, like any surgical procedure, it carries some risks and potential complications, including:
  • Bleeding: Excessive bleeding during or after surgery, which may require additional intervention.
  • Infection: Risk of infection at the surgical site, which may necessitate antibiotic treatment.
  • Nasal Obstruction: Persistent nasal congestion or obstruction despite surgery, which may require revision surgery.
  • Nasal Asymmetry: Uneven or asymmetrical results, particularly if the nasal bones or cartilage are not properly aligned.
  • Altered Sensation: Temporary or permanent changes in sensation, such as numbness or altered sense of smell.
  • Unsatisfactory Aesthetic Outcome: Patient dissatisfaction with the cosmetic results, which may require revision surgery or additional procedures.
To minimize these risks, it's essential to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon with extensive experience in septorhinoplasty and to follow all preoperative and postoperative instructions carefully.


Septorhinoplasty is a sophisticated surgical procedure that combines the functional and aesthetic aspects of nasal surgery. By addressing both internal nasal obstruction and external nasal deformities, septorhinoplasty offers patients the opportunity for improved nasal breathing, enhanced facial aesthetics, and increased self-confidence. If you are considering septorhinoplasty, it's crucial to consult with a qualified and experienced facial plastic surgeon who can evaluate your individual

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Septorhinoplasty

What is the difference between rhinoplasty and septorhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty focuses solely on reshaping the external appearance of the nose for cosmetic reasons, while septorhinoplasty combines rhinoplasty with septoplasty to address both aesthetic concerns and functional issues related to nasal obstruction.

How do I know if I need septorhinoplasty?

Septorhinoplasty may be recommended if you have both cosmetic concerns about the appearance of your nose and functional issues such as difficulty breathing through the nose due to a deviated septum or other structural abnormalities.

Will septorhinoplasty improve my breathing?

Yes, septorhinoplasty is specifically designed to improve nasal airflow and alleviate symptoms of nasal obstruction caused by a deviated septum or other internal nasal issues.

What is the recovery time for septorhinoplasty?

Recovery time varies from patient to patient but typically involves about one to two weeks of downtime, during which swelling and bruising gradually subside. Full results may not be apparent until several months after surgery once the nasal tissues have fully healed.

Will I have visible scars after septorhinoplasty?

If you undergo closed septorhinoplasty, all incisions are made inside the nostrils, resulting in no visible external scarring. However, with open septorhinoplasty, a small incision is made across the columella (the strip of tissue between the nostrils), which may leave a barely perceptible scar that usually fades over time.