Rhinoplasty vs. Septoplasty: Why All Nose Jobs Are Not Equal


Vanity or necessity? We all have met people who are really unhappy about some aspect of their appearance and talk about their needing plastic surgery. For many of those folks, the dislike of the appearance of their nose features prominently…. pun intended.

On a more serious note, whilst folks are using plastic surgery to obtain the nose of their dreams, many nose surgeries are not just cosmetic. It is important for you to be able to determine that when your loved one is complaining about their nose, they may have medical complaints of which they are unaware.

Here it is important to not only consider their self-esteem issues, but also the way they may feel.

So let’s dive in and look at possible ways to identify when they may have need for medical intervention.


What Is, and How To, Identify A Deviated Septum

Does your loved one suffer from regular:

  • Loud snoring.
  • Stuffy nose.
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose.
  • Sinus infections.
  • Runny Nose all through the day
  • Nosebleeds.
  • Cold and Headaches.

These are all ways to tell if they may have a “deviated septum” (the nasal ‘septum” is made up of the little bone and cartilage structures that divide the nose cavity into half to create two nostrils). This is problematic, because a deviated septum is crooked or off center, which creates an imbalance in airflow and more congestion on one side of the nose than the other.

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, a deviated septum is very common, and approximately 80% of people have some sort of alignment problem that affects the positioning of their septum, but it generally is not noticed because it does not cause major issues.  But more troublesome deviated septum problems can also be caused by nasal injury, trauma, diseases, or even cocaine or meth use.


A Simple Deviated Septum Test

Get your poor suffering loved to try out this test to see if they may a deviated septum

•  Press their index finger against their right nostril, and breathe in –take note of how easily air passes through their left nostril passage.

• Release the right nostril, and press their index finger against the left nostril, and breathe in – is it easier or harder to breathe in through their right nasal passage?

If there is a major imbalance like this and if your loved one suffers from symptoms like the ones described above, it really is a medical issue that needs to be addressed.

You’re likely familiar with the term “nose job”, which is an umbrella phrase that encompasses both rhinoplasty and septoplasty. But these 2 nose surgeries are different procedures with different techniques, goals, and outcomes. To know what’s right for you, it’s important to understand the similarities and differences of each.


About Septoplasty and Rhinoplasty

·    Septoplasty

Septoplasty is a procedure that is performed to correct a deviated septum. During the procedure, your nasal septum (which is the wall of bone and cartilage that divides your nostrils) is straightened and repositioned to improve air flow. Septoplasty results in better breathing, and can also help with:

o    Snoring

o    Sleep apnea

o    Sinus infections (sinusitis)

o    Frequent nose bleeds

o    Stuffiness


·    Rhinoplasty

Rhinoplasty is a cosmetic procedure that improves the shape and appearance of the nose. Rhinoplasty can be used to correct a number of imperfections:

o   Crookedness or asymmetry

o   An overly long or prominent nose

o   A hump in the nasal bridge

o   Issues with the tip of the nose (bulbous, droopy, or over- or under-projected)

o   An overly wide nasal bridge


What Makes Them Different

·         Form vs. function

The main difference between rhinoplasty and septoplasty is that rhinoplasty aims to correct the look of the nose, while septoplasty is intended to correct a breathing problem. While true septal surgery does not typically improve the look of the nose, many surgeons perform a combination procedure (sometimes referred to as septo-rhinoplasty) that improves breathing and offers a cosmetic advantage.

·         How it’s performed

Septoplasty is most often performed inside the nose — meaning there are no external scars. Rhinoplasty, on the other hand, can be performed using an open or closed approach (i.e., with or without scars).

According to the website of Dr. Albert W. Chow, a rhinoplasty surgeon in San Francisco, scarless rhinoplasty (or closed rhinoplasty) leaves no visible scar on the nose and is recommended for people who only need minimal correction. Open rhinoplasty, on the other hand, includes a small incision between the nostrils and allows for more complex surgical techniques.

·         Insurance coverage

Generally, septoplasty is considered medically needed by most insurance providers and is likely covered by your insurance plan. Rhinoplasty, on the other hand, is considered a cosmetic procedure and is not usually reimbursed by insurance providers.


What They Have in Common

·         Both are a type of nose surgery.

·         Both should be performed by a qualified surgeon.

·         Both usually require general anesthesia.

·         Both require about 4–6 weeks of recovery time.

·         Both can enhance your quality of life.

The Best of Both Worlds

Many people with breathing problems opt to improve both the look and function of their nose with a combination procedure that includes rhinoplasty and septoplasty. This is also recommended for people who have experienced trauma to the nose through some kind of injury or accident. Combining these procedures allows you to reap the benefits of both techniques — shortening your recovery time and reducing your cost — compared to having each surgery separately.