Does a Deviated Septum Require Surgery?

Nov 03, 2023
Does a Deviated Septum Require Surgery?
Are you dealing with bothersome symptoms from a deviated septum and wondering if surgery is right for you? We cover everything you need to know, from symptoms and nonsurgical treatment options to when surgery becomes necessary.

A deviated septum is a condition where the thin wall separating your nostrils isn’t perfectly aligned, potentially leading to various issues ranging from breathing difficulties to frequent sinus infections. 

Many people who have deviated septums find it challenging to determine whether surgery is necessary to correct the misalignment. While there are various treatments for this condition, severe cases require surgery. 

In Los Angeles, California, there's no better specialist to trust with your deviated septum surgery than Dr. Mani Zadeh, a board-certified and experienced ear, nose, and throat specialist.

In this article, he breaks the condition down in detail, laying out the symptoms, treatment options, and cases where you might consider surgery. 

What's a deviated septum?

Your nasal septum is a thin wall that ideally sits right at the center, dividing your two nostrils evenly. However, in many people, this septum deviates, or leans, to one side. 

A deviated septum can create a size difference between the two nostrils. This deviation can be slight or significant and may or may not lead to various health issues, such as difficulty breathing and an increased risk of sinus problems.

Signs and symptoms

The symptoms of a deviated septum can range from mild to severe, and may include:

  • Difficulty breathing through one or both nostrils
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Recurrent sinus infections
  • Facial pain or pressure
  • Snoring or noisy breathing during sleep

These symptoms may become more noticeable when you have respiratory infections like colds. 

Nonsurgical treatment options

It's essential to note that a deviated septum doesn't automatically require surgery. Numerous nonsurgical remedies may help relieve your symptoms, such as:


  • Nasal sprays: Steroid or antihistamine nasal sprays can reduce inflammation and clear blocked airways
  • Decongestants: Over-the-counter or prescription decongestants can temporarily relieve nasal obstruction
  • Nasal strips: These adhesive strips gently pull open the nasal passages, improving airflow
  • Humidifiers: A humidifier can add moisture to the air, reducing symptoms like dryness and irritation

These treatment options can only provide temporary, short-term relief if you are experiencing severe and disruptive symptoms due to the deviation. 

When is surgery necessary?

Surgery becomes an option when nonsurgical treatments fail to relieve your symptoms or if the deviation is severe enough to cause significant complications like recurrent sinus infections or sleep apnea. 

Surgical correction of a deviated septum is known as septoplasty. Signs that you need a septoplasty include:

  • Severe difficulty breathing
  • Chronic sinus infections
  • Frequent nosebleeds
  • Obstructive sleep apnea

A septoplasty usually takes 60 to 90 minutes and is most often an outpatient procedure, meaning you can go home the same day. During the surgery, Dr. Zadeh makes an incision inside your nostril to access the septum. From there, he either removes or realigns the deviated portions and repositions the septum to its optimal place.

Recovery generally takes a few weeks, and you may need to avoid certain activities that could disrupt the healing process.

A deviated septum can significantly impact your quality of life. While not all cases require surgery, it becomes necessary when symptoms are severe and nonsurgical treatments fail to relieve you. 

If you're considering surgery for a deviated septum, Dr. Mani Zadeh has unparalleled skill in diagnosing and treating conditions like a deviated septum. Book an appointment online with him today or call 310-286-0123.