rhinoplasty and septoplasty

What’s the difference between rhinoplasty and septoplasty?

If you are considering getting work done on your nose to help remedy breathing issues, it’s important to know the difference between two common surgical procedures: rhinoplasty and septoplasty. Rhinoplasties are done on the nose’s bony structure and/or outer cartilage, while septoplasties are performed on the septum, the structure separating your two nostrils. Both can be done for medical reasons, and rhinoplasties are often done for cosmetic reasons as well.


Rhinoplasty is a type of surgery on the nose involving the outward appearance and structure of the nose. Rhinoplasty procedures involve work on the nasal bone and/or the cartilage in the nose. It’s often done for cosmetic purposes, such as changing the look of the nasal bridge. However, there are also many situations in which a rhinoplasty can help with breathing difficulties as well. Some breathing issues that can be remedied through a rhinoplasty include external nasal valve collapse or a narrow nasal bridge restricting airflow. And some rhinoplasties can be done for both cosmetic and medical issues, such as a rhinoplasty to straighten a crooked nasal bridge following a broken nose. 


The septum of the nose is the strip of skin and cartilage that separates your two nostrils. A septoplasty involves any surgical work on this strip. In general, septoplasties are considered a medical procedure. Those who have deviated septums often have trouble breathing correctly due to the misaligned septum. Surgery involves going through the nostrils to straighten out the septum and improve breathing.

How do I know which is right for me?

If you have breathing problems, it’s imperative to schedule an appointment with an ENT specialist. From there, an ENT specialist will examine your nasal structures carefully from both the inside and outside, as well as other factors that may be of issue. They will ask you to describe when you have trouble breathing (i.e., snoring? Any sleep apnea? Trouble breathing just with heavy activity? Or all the time? etc.) From there, they can determine the best course of action and whether or not a septoplasty or rhinoplasty can help you. 

Will my insurance cover a septoplasty or rhinoplasty for breathing issues?

In short: usually, yes. Depending on your coverage, you may owe a copay or have to meet a deductible. Still, when a rhinoplasty or septoplasty is done to correct breathing issues, it is usually considered a necessary procedure and will be covered at least in part. If in doubt, ask your doctor’s office what your payment responsibility will be, or call your insurance directly to determine how much copay or coinsurance you may owe. And at the very least, if you haven’t met your deductible yet for the year, the cost of a medically necessary rhinoplasty or septoplasty should go towards meeting your deductible. 

If you’re having breathing issues, give our office a call. As both an ENT specialist and a plastic surgeon, Dr. Edmund Fisher is uniquely qualified to help you understand your options and perform surgery if needed. Visit our main page here to learn more and book an appointment today.

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