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Septoplasty is a surgery to straighten a deviated septum. The septum is the wall that separates the right and left sides your nose. It’s made of cartilage and bone. It’s lined with a thin mucous membrane.

A normal septum is straight and centered. A deviated septum is bent or off-center. The deviation can happen:

  • During development before birth
  • As your nose grows
  • After an injury

Septoplasty can also be done during other procedures such as rhinoplasty or sinus surgery.

Reasons for Procedure

Septoplasty may be an option if the deviated septum blocks the airway. This can cause:

Deviated Nasal Septum
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Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review possible problems such as:

  • Numbness in the tip of the nose or upper front teeth
  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Scarring
  • Septal perforation—a hole in the septum
  • No changes in symptoms
  • Poor cosmetic outcome

Your chances of problems are higher for:

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Leading up to your surgery, talk to your doctor about:

  • All the medicines you take. You may need to stop some up to 1 week in advance.
  • The type of anesthesia. Depending on the type, you may have to stop food and drink the night before. Your healthcare team will give you instructions.


Local or general anesthesia may be used. Local anesthesia will numb the area. General anesthesia will put you to sleep.

Description of the Procedure

A cut will be made inside the nose. The lining of the septum will be lifted up and out of the way. The bend will be straightened out by moving it or reshaping it. The bent piece may need to be cut off. Next, the lining will be replaced over the top of the septum. Gauze may be placed in the nose to soak up any blood. A plastic splint may be used to keep the septum in place while it heals.

How Long Will It Take?

About 1-1½ hours

How Much Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. Medicines will ease pain afterwards.

Average Hospital Stay

3-4 hours

Postoperative Care

At the Care Center

During your stay, the healthcare staff will take steps to lower your chances of infection such as:

  • Washing their hands
  • Wearing gloves or masks
  • Keeping your incisions covered

There are also steps you can take to lower your chances of infection such as:

  • Washing your hands often and reminding your healthcare staff to do the same
  • Reminding your healthcare staff to wear gloves or masks
  • Not allowing others to touch your incision

At Home

To help with healing:

  • Try to breathe through your mouth for the first few days.
  • Don't blow your nose, even though you may feel stuffy.
  • Keep your head raised when lying down for the first 1-2 days.
  • Use ice packs on your nose to ease swelling and pain.
  • Don't take aspirin products for pain.

Your doctor will check your progress and remove any packing or the splint on follow up visits. Nasal packing is taken out 1-2 days later. The splint may stay in the nose for up to a week.

Call Your Doctor

Call your doctor if any of these occur:

  • Fever or chills
  • Redness, swelling, pain, excess bleeding, or pus from the affected area
  • Packing from your nose falls into the back of your throat
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Vomit that is bloody or the color of coffee grounds
  • Pain that you can’t control with the medicines you were given
  • Coughing, breathing problems, or chest pain

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

American Rhinologic Society


Canadian Society of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

Health Canada


Deviated septum. American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery website. Available at Accessed July 3, 2018.

Deviated septum. Cedars-Sinai website. Available at: Accessed July 3, 2018.

Septal deviation and perforation. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at:,-nose,-and-throat-disorders/nose-and-paranasal-sinus-disorders/septal-deviation-and-perforation. Updated September 2017. Accessed July 3, 2018.

Last reviewed May 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Donald W. Buck II, MD