Healthdirect Free Australian health advice you can count on.

Medical problem? Call 1800 022 222. If you need urgent medical help, call triple zero immediately

healthdirect Australia is a free service where you can talk to a nurse or doctor who can help you know what to do.

beginning of content


3-minute read

This page will give you information about the surgical procedure septoplasty. If you have any questions, you should ask your GP or other relevant health professional.

What is a deviated nasal septum?

The septum is the cartilage and bone inside your nose that separates your nostrils. The septum is usually straight but it can be deviated (bent), causing symptoms of a blocked nose.

Septoplasty is the operation that treats a deviated septum.

What are the benefits of surgery?

Your septum will be straight which should relieve your symptoms of a blocked nose.

Are there any alternatives to surgery?

Surgery is recommended as it is the only dependable way to cure the condition. You cannot straighten your septum without surgery.

What does the operation involve?

The operation is usually performed under a general anaesthetic but a local anaesthetic can be used. The operation usually takes about 45 minutes.

Your surgeon will make a cut on the lining of your nose over your septum and lift the mucosa away from the cartilage and bone. They will remove the parts of the cartilage and bone that are bent and they will put the rest back in a straight position.

Your surgeon may place some packing in your nose to prevent bleeding.

What complications can occur?

Some of these can be serious and can even cause death.

General complications of any operation

Illustration showing a comparison between a straight and bent nasal septum.
a A straight nasal septum
b A bent nasal septum
  • pain
  • bleeding
  • infection of the surgical site (wound)
  • blood clot in the leg
  • blood clot in the lung

Possible complications specific to this operation

  • adhesions, where scar tissue forms deep inside your nose and can obstruct airflow
  • developing a collection of blood (haematoma) or an abscess between the layers of your septum
  • making a hole in your septum
  • damage to the nerves that supply the skin and the gum over your front upper teeth
  • change to the shape of your nose
  • reduced sense of smell
  • toxic shock syndrome, which is an infection of your bloodstream

How soon will I recover?

You should be able to go home the same day.

If you had non-dissolvable packing in your nose, you will need to stay overnight and the packing will be removed the next morning.

You will need to stay home from work and away from groups of people for 2 weeks. This is to avoid catching a cold, which could result in an infection.

Do not exercise, have a hot bath or bend down for 2 weeks.

After 2 weeks, regular exercise should help you to return to normal activities sooner. Before you start exercising, ask the healthcare team or your GP for advice.

Most people make a full recovery and can return to normal activities.


Surgery will result in you having a straight septum, which should relieve your symptoms of a blocked nose.

The operation and treatment information on this page is published under license by Healthdirect Australia from EIDO Healthcare Australia and is protected by copyright laws. Other than for your personal, non-commercial use, you may not copy, print out, download or otherwise reproduce any of the information. The information should not replace advice that your relevant health professional would give you.

For more on how this information was prepared, click here.

Learn more here about the development and quality assurance of healthdirect content.

Last reviewed: September 2019

Back To Top

Need more information?

These trusted information partners have more on this topic.

Healthdirect 24hr 7 days a week hotline

24 hour health advice you can count on

1800 022 222

Government Accredited with over 140 information partners

We are a government-funded service, providing quality, approved health information and advice

Australian Government, health department logo ACT Government logo New South Wales government, health department logo Northen Territory Government logo Government of South Australia, health department logo Tasmanian government logo Government of Western Australia, health department logo