What is the Septum?

The septum is the midline structure — made of cartilage in the front and bone in the back — that divides the right and left sides of the nose. Most people do not have a completely straight septum (in fact, medical professionals estimate that up to 80% of individuals have a deviated septum), but some the septum is much more crooked than others.  

Septoplasty to Correct a Deviated Septum

Septal deviation occurs when the cartilage inside the nose blocks the passage of air through the nostrils. This may be the result of trauma or from birth (congenital). In deviated septum surgery, the malformed septum can be removed or straightened to improve airflow. The best septoplasty procedures straighten the septum and achieve the best functional and aesthetic outcome. After deviated septum surgery, patients often say they can sleep better, exercise more easily, and that they aren’t out of breath so much. Overall, breathing is greatly improved. 

What Causes a Deviated Septum?

A deviated septum can develop while you’re still in the womb — or may even happen during trauma at birth. Many deviated septum cases happen because an individual will have multiple “mini traumas” over the course of their life, such as falling as a child. These mini traumas aren’t always even noticed, but can build up over time to cause a deviation. Many times, the reason for a deviated septum is due to a broken nose or large trauma to the face.

Problems Arising from a Deviated Septum

  • Obstruction of one side, or rarely both sides, of the nose
  • Headaches
  • Pain in the face
  • Excessively loud breathing or snoring
  • Nosebleeds
  • Nasal drip
  • Congestion
  • Decrease in airflow
  • Chronic sinus infections
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“A few months ago, I fractured my nose. From this accident, I had a deviated septum and a few nasal fractures that made the appearance of my nose much worse. I consulted Dr. Reitzen, who was very helpful in explaining the deformities in my nose and how to fix them. She then walked me through the procedure and did a beautiful job with my nose, making it look even better than before I fractured it.” 

Muhammad S.

Deviated Septum Surgery Details

Deviated septum surgery is performed under general anesthesia. If the septoplasty is being done solely for functional purposes, it tends to be a relatively quick and straightforward procedure. If cosmetic rhinoplasty is being combined, the procedure may take 2-3 hours. 

A deviated septum can be corrected using an intranasal incision or a small incision underneath the nose. The deformed cartilage is removed or re-shaped to allow for the opening of the nasal passages. Sometimes the structures inside the nose known as turbinates also need to be reduced to help augment the airflow in the nasal passages.

Recovery From Septoplasty

Because of the general anesthesia, many patients feel tired for about 24 hours following a septoplasty. Pain is minimal, although you may experience some pressure and a tight feeling in the nose. You can also expect some swelling within the nose that can make it difficult to breathe; however, this is normal and Dr. Reitzen will provide spray, saline, or ointment to help. 

She does not use packing in nose surgeries. The majority of septoplasty patients are able to go back to work or school in one week, although full recovery takes place at 1-2 months. During recovery, Dr. Reitzen advises that you refrain from any activity that puts pressure on the face, and avoid heavy lifting and strenuous activities for two weeks. 

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Why Choose Dr. Reitzen for Deviated Septum Surgery?

A cosmetic expert with an extensive ENT background, Dr. Shari Reitzen is a double board certified surgeon with the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery and the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. This combination of experience and skill makes her the ideal choice for deviated septum surgery and rhinoplasty. Whether you want one or the other or both, Dr. Reitzen has you covered. She believes that patients should be able to breathe without issue; should have a reduction in sinus infections and the need for medications, and that they should look and feel better. This is why she strives to provide individualized care and results that are both beautiful and natural, with a focus on restoring optimal function. Now with two locations (Tribeca and the Upper East Side), Dr. Reitzen is more accessible than ever. If you’re interested in deviated septum surgery, contact us today to set up your consultation.


How do I know if I have a deviated septum?

Is deviated septum surgery covered by health insurance?

How do I know if I have a deviated septum?

Having a deviated septum doesn’t just mean that you have a crooked nose. Although the only way to truly know if you have a deviated septum or not is to visit a nose specialist, you can do a small at-home test to check. Block one side of your nose by pressing against it with your finger. If you’re unable to breathe clearly through the other side and this is how it always is, you could have a deviated septum on the side on which you can’t breathe. If you’re confused or worried about having a deviated septum, we encourage you to see Dr. Reitzen.

Is deviated septum surgery covered by health insurance?

Health insurance often covers part or all of deviated septum surgery if your breathing is impaired. We encourage you to contact your health insurance provider to check and see if this type of procedure is covered.

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