The Complications of Deviated Septum Surgery

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A deviated septum occurs when a person has an irregular arrangement of the cartilage that divides the nose into two separate cavities. A deviated septum causes problems such as breathing difficulties, nasal discharge, frequent sinus infections, nosebleeds, and facial pain. Surgery can be used to treat the problem but risks and complications of deviated septum surgery can occur.

The surgery most commonly used to treat a deviated septum is called a septoplasty. The surgery is performed through the nostrils. This can prevent the patient from visible bruising and external scarring. A septoplasty can be combined with other surgeries such as a rhinoplasty, used to change the external appearance of the nose, or sinus surgery.

Common Risks and Complications

As with any surgery, there are risks and complications of deviated septum surgery. Some of the complications can be identified immediately while others may not be discovered until the healing process is over.

After surgery, it is possible that the patient’s airway may not improve. Inflammation from the surgery can cause the external appearance of the nose to be different than before.

A significant amount of bleeding is usual and shouldn’t cause concern. Although, before surgery patients should discontinue the use of aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications.

Lack of sensation at the tip of the nose and the sensation loss in the upper front teeth can occur. This complication is common and usually resides within several months after the procedure was performed. An uncommon risk is the loss of smell, that does not return.

To help prevent most complications, doctor’s orders must be followed exactly. If a patient has any concern, they need to contact their doctor or physician immediately to help prevent long-term damage.

Serious Complications of Deviated Septum Surgery

Other complications that are considered more rare include:

Infections from the nasal packing. This is usually occurs when the patient replaces nasal packing with used packing. The doctor will explain why it is extremely important to use new packing at every change. If an infection does occur, high fever and a rash develops. The patients must contact their doctor or physician immediately. Early detection can prevent the possibility of toxic shock syndrome.

A hole on the septum that connects the two nasal cavities called a septal perforation can occur. A septal perforation can cause a whistling sound, bleeding, and/or crusting. A more severe septal perforation can change the appearance of the external nose. Septal perforations are considered to be an unusual complication of a deviated septum surgery.


American Academy of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery: Fact Sheet on Deviated Septum -

Health Central: What is Septoplasty? -

Wise Geek: What is a Deviated Septum? -