Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty: What’s the Difference?

Posted on Jun 15, 2015 | 1 comment

When people say “nose job,” it almost always connotes the existence of a formerly unflattering nose into one that’s a better fit for the face; a change done for vanity’s sake. This kind of impression, however, is brought about by pop culture exposure to a medical procedure that ranks third among the most requested in the United States.

In fact, there are two kinds of nose jobs that one can undergo: rhinoplasty, the more familiar one, is generally regarded as a cosmetic procedure; septoplasty, its lesser known counterpart, is performed for reconstructive or revision purposes. Used mainly to correct deviated septums, the latter is ideal for those who suffer from breathing problems caused by facial trauma.

How else are they different? How are they similar?

Aside from differing purposes, each procedure affects separate parts of the nasal area. Rhinoplasty focuses on the bridge, the bone that supports the upper part of the nose. The septum, on the other hand, is tissue that divides the right and left sides of the nostrils. It is this cartilage that is realigned during a septoplasty.

During rhinoplasty, the appearance of the nose may be changed in a multitude of ways. The bridge of the nose is trimmed or its position adjusted to allow for a more aesthetically appealing and more proportionate central facial feature. Guided by your chosen, trusted doctor, the size and slope of your nose can be altered to your preference. Irregularities, such as bumps and asymmetries, are addressed too. A surgeon’s end goals, aside from a satisfied and healthy patient of course, are to enhance facial harmony and improve self-confidence.

If rhinoplasty is performed for cosmetic purposes, septoplasty could be said to be an option borne of necessity. Because of the septum’s proximity to the airways, a slight change in position caused by a congenital condition, deformity, or accident can obstruct nasal function. This obstruction can range from easily discounted to downright cumbersome. Symptoms vary from person to person, too. Some report “chronic stuffiness, headaches, and snoring,” while others barely feel the difference caused by a deviation or misalignment.

Regarding concerns on costs, septoplasty is commonly covered by insurance because of its reconstructive nature. Classified as a cosmetic procedure, rhinoplasty would have to be shouldered by the patient him/herself. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, “the average cost of rhinoplasty is $4,545” based on 2013 statistics.

Now that the hard part’s over, it’s time to let your nose heal from the immense stress of surgery. The occurrence of swelling of the eyes, nose, and sometimes even the face is completely normal; as is discomfort in the nasal area during the first few weeks. Most patients describe sensations such as needles pricking or a dull ache on the end of the nose. The frequent application of a cold compress for 20-minute periods is good for temporary relief.

Aside from packing, a drip pad is sometimes worn under the nose at least for the first few days. A patient should avoid strenuous physical activity for the first couple of weeks. Bed rest is best, with the head in an elevated position. In a week or two, most patients find themselves able to resume work. They generally report gaining back the sense of normalcy within a few weeks.


Dr. Patrick Hsu, MD of Memorial Plastic Surgery is a board certified and highly experienced Plastic Surgeon in Houston who specializes in aesthetic, plastic and reconstructive surgery.

Robert Gordon (70 Posts)

Robert Gordon is the editor of medical-directions.com, a health fanatic and avid Kayaker. He spends most of his time reading medical blogs and searching for new content to engage his readership.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks to share the difference between Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty.Very interesting information.

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