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Correcting a Deviated Septum and the Shape of Your Nose

For many patients a deviated septum is a blessing in disguise. The deviated septum is an interior portion of your nose that is out of alignment making sinus infections more likely and in some cases making it hard to breathe normally through your nose. If you’re considering surgery to repair a deviated septum, it is also an excellent opportunity to repair the shape of your nose as well.

Nose Jobs and Deviated Septum

A nose job scheduled along with a septoplasty to repair a deviated septum just makes good sense. After all, much of the surgery is the same procedure, and adding a few extra elements to the deviated septum procedure makes it possible to come out of your surgery with a new means of breathing, reduced infections and allergies and a straightened nose as well.

The Deviated Septum Surgery

In the deviated septum procedure, the surgeon makes a small incision to reach the cartilage partition between the nostrils. The surgeon then trims and straightens the area to make it flush and straight. The surgeon then closes the incision again and the deviated septum procedure is complete.

This is essentially the same procedure that the surgeon would use as part of a nose job procedure. With the nose job, however, the surgeon will take the extra steps of breaking the nose or shaving down bone to reduce humps while also trimming away cartilage to make the nose shapelier. Best of all, the deviated septum surgery is covered by insurance, leaving patients just a bit left over to cover out of pocket for the rhinoplasty procedure.


Deviated Septum: How Young is Too Young for Surgery

A deviated septum is a bit term for a rather common place condition. A true deviated septum is when the membrane that separates the nostrils becomes bent or out of line, partially or completely blocking one or both nostrils. The deviated septum can have varying levels of severity, and it is the severity of the condition that determines who should have surgery to correct the problem and who should wait.

The youngest potential patients for a septoplasty are those who have difficulty breathing through their noses. Parents may notice that the deviated septum becomes a problem when the child always breathes through his mouth or if a baby has trouble nursing. Not being able to breathe properly can make many things difficult for a child, and if it is interfering with feedings and normal daily procedures, surgeons are often willing to operate while the child is still relatively young.

In the vast majority of cases for a deviated septum, doctors are hesitant to operate before the child is fifteen years of age. The cartilage that makes up the septum in the nose is still growing, and as a deviated septum is not life threatening, even if it is inconvenient for patients, doctors prefer to handle the symptoms of the condition rather than try to correct it while the nose is still growing.

Often, the severity of a deviated septum changes some over time with the growth of the nose. Other things such as injuries and sporting accidents can affect the nose and possibly cause additional damage or make a deviated septum even more severe.

Once the nose is done growing, usually around fifteen or perhaps sixteen or seventeen for boys, the surgeon is able to perform the surgery to correct the condition and perhaps correct the exterior appearance of the nose at the same time through a rhinoplasty procedure.

Should My Child Have Surgery for a Deviated Septum?

A deviated septum can occur in different degrees of severity. While it may seem severe to hear that your child has a deviated septum, there may not be a rush to fix the condition surgically for several more years. Discuss the following symptoms with your pediatrician to see if intervention is necessary in your child’s unique condition.


There are several impacts on natural breathing caused by a deviated septum. In some cases, babies and young children are simply unable to breathe at all through the nose. In milder cases, they may have a harder time getting a deep breath through the blocked nostrils. In both cases, it’s likely that your baby will be a “mouth breather.” If this is the case, it will make it very difficult for your little one to eat properly, to remain latched for nursing or to sleep well.


While a deviated septum is simply a membrane in the nose being out of alignment, there are some cases where the shape and size of the nose makes the baby’s face somewhat disfigured. If the nose is unattractive or disfigured in a dramatic way due to the deviated septum, it may be worthwhile to correct the deformity early on in your child’s life when he will have little or no memory of the surgery and recovery.


If your child is born with a deviated septum, the severity of the injury will determine what is best in regards to surgery. If your child was injured in the nasal area and now has a deviated septum, surgery to correct the problem may be done very quickly to correct the nose while it is still broken to avoid additional surgery down the road.


Rhinoplasty v. Septoplasty

Often used interchangeably, there are actually several differences between rhinoplasty and septoplasty. The two procedures can be combined, and this is frequent in the world of cosmetic procedures, but what makes one procedure so much more distinct than the other?


Septoplasty is a surgical procedure designed to repair a deviated septum. The deviated septum is the bent membrane between the two nostrils. When the membrane makes it challenging to breathe through the nose or causes medical problems like headaches and sinus infections, septoplasty can alleviate suffering.

In the procedure, the surgeon peels back part of the skin covering the nose and works inside the nasal cavities to straighten the membrane. This may involve cutting, shaving or even breaking the nose to straighten it out from the inside. While patients undergoing septoplasty are often left with a slightly different nasal shape, the purpose of the septoplasty is to modify the shape of the nose from within.


On the other hand, rhinoplasty is designed to reshape the nose from the outside. A true rhinoplasty procedure does not involve cutting or changing the shape of the septum between the nostrils, but instead focuses on the procedure required to change the overall shape of the nose. This could require trimming off cartilage and bone that creates the shape of the nose or it may require breaking the nose and repositioning the bones and tissues to make a more desirable shape.

In a rhinoplasty procedure, the shape of the nose will absolutely be changed as it is a cosmetic procedure with this express purpose. If the patient is seeking a change to the inside of the nose as well as the shape of the nose, a combined procedure may very well be an option as well.



Is a Deviated Septum Visible?

A common reason for rhinoplasty, a deviated septum is a medical condition inside of the nose. The septum is the wall of cartilage that separates the two nostrils from one another. If the membrane leans to one side or the other or is bent over completely, the resulting condition is called a deviated septum.

Degrees of Deviated Septum
There are various degrees of a deviated septum. The least problematic problem is the septum that is only slightly off center. The ideal situation is when the septum, or wall, is perfectly straight allowing air and mucus to move through the nose correctly. As the septum shifts further away from this ideal, the greater the degree of the problem. A very off center septum can cause numerous health concerns including persistent sinus infections and difficulty breathing.

The Visible Deviated Septum

Most degrees of a deviated septum are not at all visible to the casual observer. Of course a doctor can see the difference when they look up into the nose through the nostrils. A deviated septum of a middle or severe degree may be visible to others if they choose to look straight up the nose with a light. But the only type of visible problem with a deviated septum is if the nose itself is actually broken previously or otherwise misshapen.

A nose that is bent or humped from a previous injury or birth defect will be obvious to others. It is for this reason that so many patients considering septoplasty to straighten out the membrane between the two nostrils also consider rhinoplasty to reshape the nose as well during the process – in essence fixing the nose both inside and out.


Deviated Septum and Rhinoplasty

For many patients, a deviated septum is the catalyst that finally spurs them on to seek out rhinoplasty as well as septoplasty, or the surgery to repair a deviated septum. In rhinoplasty, the deviated septum can be repaired and then additional modifications can be made to create symmetry and balance on the outside of the nose as well as inside it.

The deviated septum may be caused by a broken nose in the past, and if this is the case, rhinoplasty can help to fix or resolve any of the humps or bumps left behind by the break. If the deviated septum is simply a remnant of childhood and is not visible on the outside of the nose, the patient has the option of how much revision to consider for resolving the appearance of the nose.

With rhinoplasty, patients usually opt for small changes in order to make a big impact on the face without dramatically changing the facial shape or structure. Often with rhinoplasty, small changes are all that are necessary to improve facial symmetry. And, of course, since the rhinoplasty includes a septoplasty to correct the deviated septum inside the nasal cavities, the patient is able to enjoy the results of the procedure with a nose that is attractive from the inside and out.

One additional consideration for a septoplasty and rhinoplasty together is the reduced cost since insurance usually covers the portion of the surgery used to repair the deviated septum at least. This won’t cover all of the costs of a rhinoplasty, but it does help to offset some of the costs of the procedure. All told, the procedure is usually more affordable than patients initially realize as many costs are covered by insurance that wouldn’t have been if the patient opted solely for the rhinoplasty procedure separately.

Deviated Septum and Children

A deviated septum is a medical condition that is not limited to adults. A deviated septum can occur in many different ways. Some children are born with a deviated septum and others suffer from the condition only after an injury occurs. As the nose grows, the problem with a deviated septum can be more pronounced or become less of a problem depending on the extensiveness of the problem.

Deviated Septum

A deviated septum occurs when the membrane between the two nostrils becomes bent out of position. The membrane between the two nostrils is normally straight which allows the person to breath normally. When the membrane becomes bent or deviated, the septum makes it hard to breath normally. A deviated septum can lead to breathing problems for a child and then can also cause problems with sinus infections and other medical issues.

For young children, the first signs of a deviated septum may be mouth breathing or a perpetually stuffed up nose. Sinus problems, snoring and continued mouth breathing have all been signs of a deviated septum. Children with an extensive problem with a deviated septum may have options for surgery from a young age – especially if it is leading to additional medical problems for the child.

Surgery for a Deviated Septum

Children with a deviated septum that isn’t causing serious medical problems can wait for surgery if necessary as often septoplasty is performed in conjunction with rhinoplasty. Rhinoplasty is generally performed on patients over the age of sixteen for females and eighteen for males. Most surgeons prefer to wait and patients who wait until they are old enough are able to undergo surgery one time as the nose is finished growing and the surgery will not need to be repeated over time.


Deviated Septum: Is Surgery Necessary?

For patients with a deviated septum, they may have been told for years to either live with the problem or face a complex surgery. For some who would rather avoid a full surgical procedure, they wonder if the deviated septum makes it necessary to undergo surgery or if the situation is one that is tolerable for a lifetime without interference. The short answer to this is: It depends.

The Deviated Septum

A deviated septum is straightforward. There is a wall of bone and cartilage between the two nostrils of the nose. When the top of this wall becomes bent out of position, it partially or fully obstructs an airway. This is called a deviated septum. The more crooked the membrane between the nostrils, the more severe the case of the deviated septum. For some patients with a severe case of a deviated septum, surgery may be the only real alternative.

Symptoms for Surgery

Patients who are not overly affected by a deviated septum are not necessary at need for a surgery. It is those with more substantial symptoms that would best benefit from the procedure.


A deviated septum can lead to many sinus infections. Patients who battle painful sinus pressure and infections stemming from the deviated septum will be sick frequently and only straightening out the septum can the area be opened up correctly to allow for proper drainage and overall health.

Breathing Concerns

We typically breathe through our noses using our mouths as a secondary source of breathing when we have a cold or if we’ve been engaged in strenuous exercise. For those with a severely deviated septum, it is difficult, if not impossible, to breathe through the nose. This makes it medically necessary in many cases for surgeons to open up the airways through surgery for the septum.

Reasons for Rhinoplasty

Patients considering rhinoplasty are usually painted as those who don’t like their noses. While this is true in many cases, there are other reasons that individuals seek out rhinoplasty as well. While the reasons may vary for the patients, the rationale does not. Patients seeking rhinoplasty use the surgery to fix the problem they are facing.

Deviated Septum

Many rhinoplasty patients pursue the procedure to adjust a breathing problem. The septum of the nose, or the column of bone between the nostrils can become bent over the course of a person’s lifetime. In some cases, the septum doesn’t form properly early on leaving a patient with a deviated septum for a lifetime. In other cases, the deviated septum develops later as a result of an injury. In either case, a severe incident of a deviated septum requires surgery to resolve.

In the surgery to resolve the deviated septum, the nose is often opened and work is done that is very similar – if not identical – to the procedure for rhinoplasty. In fact, many of the trimming done in rhinoplasty is necessary as part of the deviated septum surgery. Many deviated septum patients emerge with a new, shapely nose as a result of the surgery.


Many other patients seek rhinoplasty as a way to achieve greater balance and symmetry on their faces. Large noses detract from the face and can feel out of balance. Rhinoplasty can help to reshape these noses leaving patients feeling more confident and attractive. Through rhinoplasty, surgeons are able to narrow or widen the nose and shape it with greater balance so that the face is as shapely as possible with a natural nose to anchor it.

Deviated Septum FAQ

While you’ve likely head the term ‘deviated septum’, you may have many questions about the medical condition and to go about resolving it. Many of the most common questions and concerns are addressed here.

Q: What is a deviated septum?

A: While it sounds terrifying, the answer is much simpler. A septum is the thin membrane of bone and cartilage that separates your nasal cavities. When this membrane is bent out of shape, it’s called a deviated septum. Often a deviated septum can lead to breathing difficulties or sinus issues including frequent sinus infections.

Q: Is surgery required to fix a deviated septum?

A: There are several classes of a deviated septum. Some individuals with a Class One deviation require no surgery as they have no symptoms that stem from a minor condition. The septum may be off center, but it’s not causing a problem for the patient so no treatment is necessary. The deviations that are more severe cause problems like congestion, nose bleeds, breathing troubles and sinus infections and surgery is the only long-term solution. Surgical intervention is considered a permanent fix.

Q: Does rhinoplasty fix a deviated septum?

A: The short answer here is: it can. Rhinoplasty is a term for many different nose procedures, and one of those does include the more specific septoplasty where a surgeon works inside the nose to remove any excess bone or cartilage necessary to open up the nasal cavities. When the two are combined, the correct term is septorhinoplasty.

Q: Can you see a deviated septum?

A: The deviated septum is inside the nasal cavities, so it’s not visible on the outside of the face. In severe cases a doctor may be able to see a blockage through a nasal cavity and asymmetry may be visible in the shape of the nose as well.