What is a deviated septum? How is it identifiable?

The ridge of my nose has a bump on it. Is that what deviated septum is? Most people I heard say they had surgery to correct a deviated septum had a similar bump removed. Was this just an excuse for them to have a nose job or is this what a deviated septum surgery entails?


F, 27, Maryland

An elevated ridge or dorsal hump on your nose is not an indication of a deviated nasal septum. While it's possible that a nose injury could cause both the bump and a deviated septum, the two are not necessarily related.

There are several signs to look for if you think you may have a deviated septum. These include difficulty breathing through your nose, snoring and sleep disturbances, frequent nosebleeds, post-nasal drip chronic sinus infection, headaches, nasal congestion, and, in extreme cases: obstructive sleep apnea.

In cases where the septum is not severely malpositioned, a nasal steroid spray may be enough to restore regular breathing through the nose. If your only symptom is snoring, it's possible that by simply changing your sleeping position or elevating your head the issue can be corrected.

For mild cases of nasal obstruction due to a deviated septum, it's possible to avoid surgery with a balloon septoplasty. A balloon septoplasty is an outpatient procedure and can be performed under local anesthesia. Because it's minimally invasive it carries lower risks and may be more appropriate for some patients with certain health conditions or age restrictions.

In cases of a more severely deviated septum, nasal surgery is usually required. A septoplasty alone will not involve shaving down your dorsal hump. They are separate surgical procedures but they are often performed at the same time for convenience.

A dorsal hump on the nose can be the result of genetics or a prior injury or trauma. In most cases, a bump on the nose is a simple inherited trait. It does not indicate a deviated septum.

The nasal septum is narrow strip of bone and cartilage which partitions the nasal cavity into two nostrils. When the septum is misaligned, crooked or irregularly shaped it can cause breathing problems and other issues. These issues include frequent sinus congestion, nosebleeds, sinus infections, headaches, and snoring.

There are three primary methods of treating the symptoms associated with a deviated septum. The first is with medication: There are over the counter and prescription medications which can temporarily expand the nasal cavity and improve the passage of air. The second is a balloon septoplasty: This relatively new procedure is minimally invasive and is used only in cases where the misalignment of the septum is mild. The third is septum surgery or septoplasty: A septoplasty is plastic surgery to correct the deviation of the septum.

Septoplasty surgery can be performed under either general or local anesthesia. In most cases, the procedure is performed through the nostrils leaving no noticeable scars. Your plastic surgeon will remove excess cartilage and bone and straighten the septum to correct any breathing difficulties. In many cases, your surgeon will temporarily stabilize your septum with plastic splints and internal sutures following the procedure.

It's very common to perform a septoplasty at the same time as a rhinoplasty, but a simple septoplasty will not result in the removal or correction of a dorsal hump.

Always remember to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon for best results.

Your nasal septum is the wall of cartilage and bone that separates your nostrils. In most cases, it descends evenly down the center of the nose, creating two equally shaped nostrils. In the case of a deviated nasal septum, the septum is crooked, generally resulting in irregular/uneven nostrils. That being said, a deviated septum does NOT always cause nasal alar asymmetry, as it may only be deviated inside the nose.

This deviation can block the free flow of air through one or both sides of the nose. Nasal breathing difficulties or noisy breathing are the most common symptom of a deviated septum. In severe cases, patients also report frequent nosebleeds, sleep disorders, and recurrent nasal infections.

In many cases, a deviated septum is the result of an obvious accident, a sports injury, or some other physical blow to the nose. In other cases, a crooked septum is congenital.

No matter what the cause of a deviated septum, the treatments are the same. In some cases where the nasal symptoms are mild, it may be possible to treat the symptoms with medication. In more serious cases, the best treatment option is surgery.

If you are suffering from symptoms which you believe to be associated with a deviated septum, I advise you to consult with an otolaryngologist (ENT) for confirmation.

Deviated septum surgery is a common procedure which can usually be completed in around an hour. Depending on the specifics of your case, the surgery can be performed under local or general anesthesia. In most cases, you should be able to go home just a few hours after your surgery is complete.

If you have already been diagnosed with a deviated septum and are interested in moving forward with corrective surgery, always remember to consult with a board-certified plastic surgeon or ENT for best results and best practices.

Dr. Frederic Corbin has 1 Nose job before & after:

Nose job before image performed by Dr. Frederic CorbinNose job after image performed by Dr. Frederic Corbin

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In the simplest terms, a deviated septum is a nasal septum that is off-center or crooked and makes breathing through the nose difficult.

The nasal septum is the thin wall of bone and cartilage that separates our two nostrils. A perfectly aligned septum would divide the nose evenly into two equal-sized nasal passages. In reality, almost all of us have some level of imbalance between our two nostrils. Even though very few of us have a perfectly aligned septum, a small amount of septal deviation typically doesn't matter unless it actually causes issues with airflow or congestion.

Some of us are born with a deviated septum, while others get a deviated septum as the result of physical trauma to the nose.

Patients often ask how to tell if their septum is deviated. The most common answer is excessive or chronic nasal congestion. In many cases, chronic congestion is also associated with chronic sinus infection. Other common symptoms include frequent headaches, snoring or strained breathing during sleep, sleep apnea, nosebleeds, and facial pain.

The bump on your nose is not an indication of a deviated septum, although it's possible that the two are related.

Septoplasty surgery to correct a deviated septum can be performed entirely inside the nose. A plastic surgeon will surgically remove the excess cartilage or bone through the nostrils and balance the size of the nostrils. The surgeon will also ensure that the airways are unblocked to allow normal breathing.  

In many cases septoplasty surgery is combined with sinus surgery or is performed as part of a rhinoplasty.

If you believe that you may have a deviated septum, I recommend consulting with a board-certified plastic surgeon or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist to discuss which options make the most sense for you. If you are considering cosmetic rhinoplasty now or in the future, you should discuss the issue of your deviated septum with your cosmetic surgeon prior to surgery.

Dr. Alexander Ovchinsky has 10 Revision Rhinoplasty before & afters:

Revision Rhinoplasty before image performed by Dr. Alexander OvchinskyRevision Rhinoplasty after image performed by Dr. Alexander OvchinskyRevision Rhinoplasty before image performed by Dr. Alexander OvchinskyRevision Rhinoplasty after image performed by Dr. Alexander OvchinskyRevision Rhinoplasty before image performed by Dr. Alexander OvchinskyRevision Rhinoplasty after image performed by Dr. Alexander OvchinskyRhinoplasty (nose job) before image performed by Dr. Alexander OvchinskyRhinoplasty (nose job) after image performed by Dr. Alexander Ovchinsky

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A deviated septum describes an abnormality inside your nose which depending on degree may impact on your breathing. A bump on the out side of your nose is more of a cosmetic issue or possibly a post traumatic deformity. Both of which can be addressed at the time of nasal surgery. If there is a functional problem, a breathing issue, insurance may cover that component of the surgery.

You septum is the dividing wall between your left and rright nose. If it is not straight you can have symptoms like trouble breathing, nose bleeds, sinusitis, etc.

The septum does also contribute to the height of the nose (and the bump, along with the nasal bones).  Therefore if someone wanted to have a 'nose job' or rhinoplasty, it would be in their best interest to have a septoplasty at the same time.  But you do not have to fix the bump, or have a rhinoplasty to have your breathing corrected.  That portion is optional.

Good luck!

Samir Undavia