Septoplasty refers to the corrective surgical procedure for straightening the nasal septum. It is performed to improve the breathing condition of the patient. The nasal septum is the partition that divides the nasal cavity into the right and left nostrils. The lower half of the septum is cartilaginous and the upper half is bony. The nasal septum continues growing until maturity. Several cartilage and bone building centers are involved in the balanced growth of the nasal septum. Obviously, if one or more of these centers grows more or less than normal for any reason, the nasal septum may be deviated toward the right or left of the midline. This deviation is often in the inner part of the nose and does not affect the external appearance of the nose.
Injury sustained to the nose prior to maturity can damage these cartilage and bone building centers. Such injuries may occur while passing through the birth canal or throughout one’s life. Deviation of the nasal septum may result in constriction of one or both nasal passages and cause problems with breathing which may manifest as respiratory obstruction, nightly snoring, decrease in sense of smell, nasal dryness, and nosebleeds. In the long term, other complications may occur as well including sinusitis, pulmonary and cardiac problems, and ear problems. In cases where nasal septum deviation is very severe, in addition to the mentioned problems, the appearance of the nose may be affected as well.
If nasal septum deviation is severe enough to cause respiratory obstruction, it must be corrected through surgery. This procedure may be performed separately or in tandem with rhinoplasty, nasal polyp surgery, endoscopic sinus surgery, and turbinate reduction surgery.
It must be noted that by itself septoplasty does not result in improvement of the appearance of the nose; rather, alongside rhinoplasty, it can enhance appearance and breathing.