You may or may not notice a deviated septum in your own nose. Milder deviations occur naturally in most people as a result of having their faces squished against the vaginal wall of their mothers during labor and delivery. The septum does not fully readjust to a straight position after birth either, leaving those with a deviation to live with it for the rest of their lives.
It is estimated that somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of the population has a congenital deviated septum, i.e., they were born with it. Another 10 to 20 percent acquire a deviated septum as a result of a sports injury or having their noses broken during fistfights or domestic violence cases. If you have had a deviated septum most of your life, you may not have noticed it and have learned to live with the weird way you breathe.
However, if you are concerned with your ability to breathe, you have trouble breathing or have several sinus infections every year, and/or you just don’t like how your deviation makes your nose look, you can fix it. A common question asked by plastic surgery patients is, “Can a rhinoplasty fix this problem with my nose?” The short and long answers to this problem follow.
Minor Deviations See the Best Results
Minor deviations, such as those that are not noticeable at all until you lay down and someone is looking up at your nose to those that are barely noticeable from the front or side view of your face, have the best surgical results. These deviations usually do not involve bone and therefore the surgeon only has to carefully cut and reshape the septum and soft cartilage at the end of your nose. This usually only requires a septoplasty to correct the mild deviations of the septum and move/shape some of the soft tissue or cartilage connected to the septum.
Moderate to Severe Deviations Require More Work
Moderate to severe deviations require a little more work. The best plastic surgeons can do a great job via septorhinoplasty. A septorhinoplasty not only fixes the septum but also reshapes the nose entirely so that it looks like a very different nose than the one you had. People with broken nose bones or nose bones that were off-center when they were born would benefit more from this more intensive corrective surgery than from a septoplasty.
For patients who have misshapen noses as the result of birth canal trauma or from broken nose bones later in life have the most extensive rhinoplasty surgeries. For these patients, the bones have to be carefully tapped and broken all over again, have bits of bone removed or grafted onto the existing bone, and held in place with surgical packing and bandages. These are also the longest surgeries with the longest recovery times, but when the surgeries are successful the noses come out looking perfect.
In cases where a septorhinoplasty is used to correct a deviated septum and a severely crooked nose or nose deformity, it might require more than one surgery. That is because the nose is part of the head and face, which is very vascular and tends to swell quickly during and after surgery. A second or third surgery may also be needed if the initial surgery doesn’t meet total patient satisfaction with the results. However, you should be careful about having too many surgeries on your nose so that you aren’t left with an inability to breathe at all or a nose that just doesn’t look right on your face.
Are There Any Septum and Cartilage Deformities a Rhinoplasty Can’t Fix?
There are always risks with this type of plastic and corrective surgery, but it’s not so much the risks you have to worry about. In almost every case where a deviated septum is involved and a patient wants a rhinoplasty for corrective and cosmetic purposes, the surgery is a straightforward one. The details and approach to your specific surgery are personalized because your nose is different from everyone else’s.
With that, you might be worried that there are some deformities this type of surgery can’t correct. It is extremely rare, but you might have an open nasal-orbital spot that causes the brain or brain fluid to seep out your nose. A rhinoplasty or septorhinoplasty can’t fix this as it needs more intensive surgery to prevent the continued problem at hand.
You may also have excessive polyps in your nose or sinuses that do not leave enough actual nasal tissue to complete a surgery once the polyps are removed. The surgeon then has to decide how to complete the surgery or work with what he/she has. Finally, any sort of sinus, nasal, or brain cancer discovered while working on your septum and nose may dictate what the surgeon does next. He/she may just bring you out of surgery to discuss what was discovered and what you can choose to do from here. These are very rare situations, however, so you shouldn’t worry too much about it unless an ENT (ear, nose, and throat specialist) has told you that you have several anomalies in your nose.
The Short Answer to the Deviated Septum and Rhinoplasty Question
Ultimately, yes, a rhinoplasty that includes a septoplasty procedure can fix a deviated septum. If you don’t need or want cosmetic correction for the rest of your nose, then rhinoplasty isn’t really for you. All you need then is a septoplasty.
You should discuss with your plastic surgeon at The Rhinoplasty Center which of these procedures is for you. Consultations are typically free, and an exam of your nose, septum, and nasal bones is required to assess your need for surgery and how you can benefit from this particular surgery. There are certainly multiple benefits to straightening your septum and centering your nose on your face, but you should find out how it can best benefit you personally.