Septal Reconstruction - I have no septal cartilage. How is nasal reconstruction done and what extent of damage is fixable?

I have no septal cartilage and not sure where to start. Should I get an MRI of my face first? It has causing me headaches and puffy under eyes in the last few years. If I don't breath from my nose for 5 minutes, the headache goes away. Is that due to sinus exposure to air?

Doctor Answers 3

Septal Reconstruction - I have no septal cartilage. How is nasal reconstruction done and what extent of damage is fixable?

Hello Mary Bella - Thanks for your question. I'm sorry for your troubles. If you have no septal cartilage, you will need some type of septal reconstruction with rib cartilage grafting to attempt to restore your nose. I would recommend that you consult with a rhinoplasty specialist for an in-person exam and realistic surgical planning. I would be happy to discuss this with you further at my office in Cherry Creek. 

Take care, 

Dr. Shah


Denver Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 47 reviews

Reconstruction With Rib Cartilage

So sorry to hear of your troubles. A lack of septal cartilage can certainly interfere with respiratory function, as you describe. The good news is that there is a path forward. Using donor cartilage from your ribs, a qualified facial plastic surgeon can reconstruct the septum and improve your breathing. I definitely recommend searching for a surgeon with expertise in reconstructive surgery, if possible. An MRI likely isn't necessary. 

Jerold Olson, MD
Tucson Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Septal cartilage replacement

The lack of septal cartilage can cause difficulties with breathing as well as the appearance of the nose. When a large portion of the septal cartilage is absent, the most common replacement source is rib cartilage. An MRI is not necessary for your nose. If you have concerns about your sinuses, the best advice is to see an otolaryngologist.

P. Daniel Ward, MD
Salt Lake City Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 32 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.