What is the difference between rhinoplasty and septoplasty?

Rhinoplasty and septoplasty are two distinct surgical procedures that address different aspects of nasal health and appearance. 

In simple terms, rhinoplasty focuses on the external appearance of the nose, often for cosmetic reasons, while septoplasty is primarily aimed at correcting internal issues related to the nasal septum.

Understanding the differences between these procedures is essential for individuals considering nasal surgery, as each serves a unique purpose and requires specific considerations. Let’s go deeper into the differences between rhinoplasty surgery and septoplasty to understand their individual roles and benefits.

What is rhinoplasty?

Rhinoplasty, often referred to as a “nose job,” is a surgical procedure aimed at altering the shape, size, and overall appearance of the nose. Unlike septoplasty, which primarily focuses on correcting internal nasal issues, rhinoplasty is predominantly cosmetic in nature, although it can also address functional concerns.

Common reasons for undergoing rhinoplasty include enhancing the aesthetic appearance of the nose, improving facial harmony, correcting birth defects or injuries, and addressing breathing difficulties caused by structural abnormalities

The rhinoplasty procedure involves reshaping the nasal bones and cartilage to achieve the desired outcome, which may include reducing or increasing the size of the nose, reshaping the tip, or narrowing the nostrils.

Rhinoplasty is a highly personalized procedure, with each surgery designed to meet the individual’s unique goals and anatomical features. It is typically performed under general anesthesia and can be done using either an open or closed technique, depending on the complexity of the surgery.

What is septoplasty?

Septoplasty is a surgical procedure performed to correct a deviated septum, which is the displacement of the nasal septum that divides the two nostrils. Unlike rhinoplasty, which focuses on the external appearance of the nose, septoplasty is solely aimed at addressing internal nasal abnormalities that can obstruct airflow and lead to breathing difficulties.

The primary purpose of septoplasty is to improve nasal breathing by straightening and repositioning the septum. A deviated septum can result from a variety of factors, including injury, congenital deformities, or previous nasal surgeries. When the deviation is severe enough to obstruct airflow, septoplasty may be recommended as a medically necessary procedure.

During septoplasty, the surgeon makes an incision inside the nose and lifts the mucous membrane covering the septum. The deviated portions of the septum are then reshaped or removed to create a straighter nasal passage. The procedure is typically performed under local or general anesthesia and can often be completed in less than an hour.

Septoplasty is an effective treatment for individuals experiencing breathing difficulties due to a deviated septum. 

Key Differences Between Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty

When comparing rhinoplasty and septoplasty, it’s essential to understand their primary objectives, the aspects of the nose they target, and how they are perceived in terms of necessity and insurance coverage.

Purpose and Functionality:

  • Rhinoplasty is primarily a cosmetic procedure aimed at enhancing the external appearance of the nose. It can involve reshaping the nasal tip, narrowing the bridge, or correcting asymmetry to improve overall facial aesthetics.
  • Septoplasty, on the other hand, is a functional procedure focused on correcting internal nasal abnormalities, particularly a deviated septum. This can improve airflow, alleviate breathing difficulties, and reduce symptoms such as snoring or sleep apnea.

External and Internal Focus:

  • Rhinoplasty addresses the external structure of the nose, including the skin, cartilage, and bone. It is often performed to improve the overall appearance of the nose in proportion to the face.
  • Septoplasty targets the internal structures of the nose, specifically the septum. By straightening the septum and improving nasal airflow, septoplasty can enhance breathing function without significantly altering the external appearance of the nose.

Cost and Insurance Coverage:

  • Rhinoplasty is typically considered a cosmetic procedure and is not usually covered by insurance. The cost of rhinoplasty can vary widely depending on the surgeon’s expertise, the complexity of the procedure, and the geographic location.
  • Septoplasty, when performed to correct a deviated septum and improve breathing function, is often considered a medically necessary procedure and may be covered by insurance. The cost of septoplasty is generally lower than that of rhinoplasty, making it a more accessible option for individuals with breathing difficulties.

Consulting with a qualified surgeon can help determine the most appropriate procedure based on individual needs and goals.

Similarities Between Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty

While rhinoplasty and septoplasty are distinct procedures with different goals, there are some similarities and areas of overlap between the two surgeries.

Surgeon Qualifications:

Both rhinoplasty and septoplasty require a qualified surgeon with expertise in nasal anatomy and surgical techniques. A board-certified plastic surgeon or otolaryngologist (ENT) is typically recommended for these procedures.

Anesthesia Requirement:

Both rhinoplasty and septoplasty are surgical procedures that require anesthesia. The type of anesthesia used can vary depending on the complexity of the surgery and the surgeon’s preference. General anesthesia is commonly used for both procedures to ensure the patient is comfortable and pain-free during the surgery.

Possibility of Combination:

In some cases, rhinoplasty and septoplasty can be combined into a single procedure known as septorhinoplasty. This combined procedure addresses both the cosmetic and functional aspects of the nose, making it an ideal option for individuals who wish to improve both the appearance and function of their nose simultaneously.

While there are similarities between rhinoplasty and septoplasty, it is essential to understand the specific goals and outcomes of each procedure. Consulting with a qualified surgeon is the best way to determine the most appropriate treatment plan based on individual needs and concerns.

Benefits and Risks of Rhinoplasty and Septoplasty

Both rhinoplasty and septoplasty offer unique benefits and carry inherent risks, which should be carefully considered by individuals considering these procedures.

Benefits of Rhinoplasty:

Rhinoplasty offers several benefits, primarily focused on enhancing the aesthetics of the nose. By reshaping the nasal structures, rhinoplasty can improve the overall appearance of the nose, creating a more harmonious facial profile. This can lead to increased self-confidence and improved quality of life for individuals unhappy with the appearance of their nose.

Risks of Rhinoplasty:

Like any surgical procedure, rhinoplasty carries certain risks. These can include infection, bleeding, adverse reaction to anesthesia, and asymmetry. There is also a risk of overcorrection or undercorrection, which may require revision surgery to achieve the desired results. Nasal airway obstruction is another potential risk that can impact breathing function.

Benefits of Septoplasty:

Septoplasty is primarily aimed at improving nasal function by correcting a deviated septum. By straightening the septum, septoplasty can improve airflow through the nasal passages, making breathing easier. This can lead to a reduction in symptoms such as snoring, sleep apnea, and chronic nasal congestion, improving overall quality of life.

Risks of Septoplasty:

While septoplasty is generally considered a safe procedure. However, Potential complications include bleeding, infection, septal perforation, and changes in nasal sensation. There is also a risk of recurrence of nasal obstruction, especially if the underlying cause is not fully corrected during the initial surgery.


Rhinoplasty and septoplasty are two distinct surgical procedures that serve different purposes in addressing nasal health and appearance. Rhinoplasty focuses on improving the external appearance of the nose, while septoplasty is aimed at correcting internal issues such as a deviated septum. Despite their differences, both procedures require the expertise of a qualified surgeon to ensure optimal results.

It is essential for individuals considering nasal surgery to consult with a qualified surgeon to determine the most appropriate procedure based on their specific needs and goals. A thorough evaluation by a skilled surgeon can help determine whether rhinoplasty, septoplasty, or a combination of both (septorhinoplasty) is the best course of action.

Are you looking to enhance your nasal aesthetics or improve your breathing? Schedule a consultation for our rhinoplasty and asthetic center in Delhi – Orange Tree Clinic, today!

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