Treatment for Deviated Septum

What is the nasal septum?

Our noses are one of our most important organs, designed to filter and warm the air we breathe. The nasal septum is a thin wall that separates your right and left nasal cavities. The nasal septum runs down the middle of the nose, dividing the bone and cartilage into two compartments. Ideally, it is situated in the center of your nose. 

What is a Deviated Septum?

It is estimated that 80 percent of all nasal septums are crooked/deviated making one nasal passage smaller. This may result in nasal obstruction, making it harder to breathe or impair nasal drainage. If the septum is deviated, it can dramatically impact the function of the nose.

Causes of Deviated septum:

  • Trauma
  • Normal development resulting in a crooked septum
  • It is common that deviated septums will worsen over time. 
septoplasty knoxville tn
septoplasty knoxville tn

Symptoms of Deviated Nasal Septum

Those with mild to moderate deviations may not experience any symptoms, while patients with severe septal deviation may have difficulties breathing through the nose – one of the most common symptoms. Other symptoms may include:

  • Blockage of one or both nostrils causing reduced airflow
  • Nasal congestion, sometimes only on one-side
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Nosebleeds, nasal crusting, dry nose
  • Frequent sinus infections
  • Facial pain
  • Headaches
  • Nasal pain
  • Postnasal drip
  • Difficulty breathing at night

Diagnosing a Deviated Septum

Septal deviations can be diagnosed in several ways.

Step 1

Examination: A simple examination will detect deviations that may be in front of the nose.

Step 2

Nasal Endoscopy: A nasal endoscopy is performed in the office by sliding a tiny endoscope and passing it through the nostrils. This procedure is well tolerated, and although some patients may prefer a numbing nasal spray prior to the procedure, generally an endoscopy can be completed with no special medications at all.

Step 3

CT scan creates high-quality images of the sinuses in 20 – 40 seconds while the patient sits upright comfortably in an open chair. This quick and simple scan can easily be performed in the office.

Medical Treatment:

Medications and treatments will not cure a deviated septum but can help ease symptoms caused by a septal deviation.

Allergy Treatment

If allergies are exacerbating the deviation, then patients may benefit from allergy treatment. Treating allergies will decrease the swelling of the lining of the septum and surrounding tissue. Patients will notice less congestion, but it is important to keep in mind that this will not alter or fix the septal deviation.


(Can be used to ease symptoms)

Some options include:

  • Decongestants
  • Antihistamines
  • Nasal Steroids Spray
  • Nasal Antihistamine Sprays
  • Allergy Immunotherapy (shots or drops)

What is a septoplasty?

For symptomatic patients with deviated septum, medications are usually less effective and patients may require surgery.  A septoplasty is a reconstruction of the septum designed to straighten the deviated bone and cartilage of the nose. This is an outpatient procedure that takes less than 1 hour to perform. 

Septoplasty is done completely within the nose and leaves no external scars after surgery. 


Is Septoplasty right for me?

Our expert providers will perform a comprehensive history and physical examination to determine the best treatment options for your nasal obstruction. Needing a septoplasty is a question of function. Our providers will often use a scope to evaluate the entire sinonasal cavity to determine specific causes of airflow obstruction. This can impact normal breathing (creating more mouth breathing) during sleep.

What are the Benefits of Having a Septoplasty?

A septoplasty straightens and corrects the position of the septum to return normal, effective airflow through the nostrils. Our patients have been very satisfied with the improvements in their breathing and decreased nasal congestion gained through septoplasty. In some patients they may also see significant improvement in mouth breathing, chronic nosebleeds, headaches, dry mouth and improved sleep quality. 


What does the procedure Entail?

Our physicians make any necessary incisions within the inside of the nose. The first step is to lift the lining of the nose (mucosa) that covers the septum. They then straighten the nasal septum by repositioning, straightening and removing pieces of crooked bone and cartilage. When the necessary changes have been made, the mucosa is repositioned, and the incision is closed. Silicone splints may or may not be placed in each nostril for support during healing and are removed a week after the procedure. The surgery only takes about 45 minutes.


Post-surgery you will want to rest and avoid anything coming in contact with your nose. It is normal to have a mild bloody ooze or discharge from your nose after surgery. You’ll have some minor pain and swelling for a day or two, but swelling with this surgery doesn’t linger. You will be using nasal sprays and rinses in your nose to help you heal and recover faster. You’ll need to sleep with your head elevated for a few days. You will receive detailed care and recovery instructions. You should fully recover from you procedure in a few short weeks. 

What are the Risks With Septoplasty?

It is rare to experience complications from this procedure. Our board certified physicians perform this procedure regularly, minimizing the surgical risks. The septum can be perforated (a hole through the septum). Your sense of smell can be decreased, although this is unusual and most often temporary. The main risk is that the procedure doesn’t improve your breathing to the degree you had hoped. If this is the case, some patients may opt for a revision septoplasty for further refinement, this is necessary in less than 5% of patients.