Does a Deviated Septum Require Surgical Repair?

The deviated septum is a common condition that occurs when the thin wall of bone and cartilage between the nasal cavities — known as the septum — becomes bent or displaced. Normally the septum should be in the center of the inside of your nose separating your right and left nasal passages equally.

This condition is surprisingly common. In fact, approximately 80 percent of the population has a noticeably deviated septum.

If your nasal septum is displaced, does that mean surgical intervention is necessary? The answer primarily depends upon your symptoms.

Deviated Septum Surgery Is Not Always Necessary

Often, a deviation in the septum is discovered incidentally during a routine examination. Patients may not be aware they have this condition if they haven’t experienced any symptoms.

In other cases, patients are aware of the problem, but the symptoms don’t significantly affect their nasal breathing, sleep, exercise or quality of life.

In either of these situations, deviated nasal septum surgery, or septoplasty, is not typically required.

Symptoms That Indicate the Need for Deviated Septum Surgery

For some patients, an irregular nasal septum can result in significant sinus issues. One or both nostrils may be continually congested or blocked, and patients may experience frequent sinus infections and nosebleeds.

Some patients only have symptoms when they have a cold or respiratory illness. An infection triggers inflammation, blocking airflow and magnifying nasal congestion. Once the infection is gone, normal breathing is restored.

Increased nasal congestion may also lead or contribute to the development of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). This dangerous condition causes repeated lapses in breathing during sleep, depriving the brain and body of oxygen.

For many patients with severe symptoms, a septoplasty procedure can dramatically improve their overall health and quality of life.

About Deviated Septum Surgery

Septoplasty is typically recommended for patients with moderate to severe nasal obstructions or difficulty breathing. Patients who suffer frequent respiratory infections that result in disabling congestion may also be candidates for deviated nasal septum surgery. Dr. Mobley is a national authority on nasal airway surgery. He has over 40 peer reviewed publications including having authored several book chapters specifically on nasal airway surgery.

The septoplasty procedure is performed as an outpatient operation. Dr. Mobley very rarely uses packing and so most patients are back to a fairly normal routine about 2-4 days after the operation.

For patients with desires to change the cosmetic appearance of the nose, Dr. Mobley can often combine nasal septum surgery with cosmetic rhinoplasty, a procedure that reshapes the nose. Patients who have both surgeries will have some noticeable swelling and bruising as a result of the rhinoplasty portion of the procedure.

This surgery is not usually performed on minors, because the septum continues growing until about age 16.

Dr. Mobley and the professional medical team at Mobley MD Utah Facial Plastic Surgery can evaluate your symptoms and nasal structure, and recommend the most appropriate course of treatment. Contact our Salt Lake City office today to schedule a consultation to learn more about deviated septum treatment.