What is a Deviated Septum?

The septum is a thin wall made of cartilage and bone located between the two nostrils. When the septum is bent, off-center or has an irregular shape, it is called a deviated septum.

Though some people are born with a deviated septum, other people develop them as a result of injury. Many people have small defects in their septum that may not have a negative impact on breathing and other functions of their nose, while others have a difficult time breathing as a result of a deviated septum.

When is Treatment Needed?

Depending on the location and severity of the deviation, other medical problems can occur as a direct result. A blocked airway can make breathing through the nose very difficult. If a deviated septum blocks the sinus passage, it can lead to sinusitis or to the drying of the internal mucous membrane which can cause nosebleeds or a drippy nose.

If you have other medical problems, a deviated septum can make them worse. Congestion, allergies and obstructive sleep disorders can worsen if you have an irregular nasal septum. If you suffer from any of these medical problems, surgery may provide relief.

Surgical Intervention

Surgery to correct a deviated septum may include septoplasty (reshaping the septum or rhinoplasty (reshaping the nose). A surgeon may use septoplasty to straighten a bend, correct a deformity or cut out the portion of the septum that is obstructing the airway. Rhinoplasty reshapes the entire nose, correcting both the shape and improving function. Septorhinoplasty is a surgical procedure that combines rhinoplasty and septoplasty.


In most cases, surgery to correct a deviated septum is an outpatient procedure, meaning there is no overnight hospital stay. Because downtime after surgery varies for each patient, we will check a patient’s healing progress one week post-surgery. Bruising from the surgery can diminish within one week, but can take longer in older patients since our skin and tissue becomes less resilient as we age.

If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, call 314-996-3880. Our surgeons can help determine the best treatment approach for your anatomy, medical conditions and personal objectives.