Would Fixing Deviated Septum Be Considered a Cosmetic Procedure?

I'm looking into getting my deviated septum fixed in the near future. Would that be considered cosmetic even though I have trouble breathing and therefore makes it seem medically required?

Doctor Answers 10

Correction of deviated septum is not a cosmetic procedure

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The nasal septum is the wall in the midline of the nose that separates the right nasal passage from the left. The nasal septum is composed of cartilage and bone. Septum deviation can cause blockage of air flow in one or both nostrils. Repair of septum deviation is a functional operation and should be covered by insurance.

Some insurance companies have placed certain requirements before approving payment for septoplasty. Requirements such as a attempts at medical treatment with allergy nasal sprays, or a CT scan to document a deviated septum. Contact your local ENT surgeon, and he or she will help you navigate such requirements.

In general, repair of a deviated septum will not change the external appearance of the nose.

New York Facial Plastic Surgeon

Deviated septum surgery is not cosmetic

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}


Deviated septum surgery is a very common operation, as more than 80% of people have deviated septums. A deviated septum is a medical condition, which may cause nasal obstruction, congestion, snoring, allergy symptoms, or post nasal drip. Septoplasty, surgery on the septum, is an outpatient procedure that helps corrects the deviation.

Septoplasty is not cosmetic. For a majority of patients, septoplasty will not alter or change the external appearance of the nose. No nasal cast needs to be applied after routine septal surgery.

Rhinoplasty, surgery on the external nose, will alter the appearance of the nose. Rhinoplasty may be combined with septoplasty during the same operation.

Speak with your both physician and insurance provider to clarify what are the planned procedure(s), and whether these procedure(s) are covered by you specific insurance plan.

Houtan Chaboki, MD
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 89 reviews

Septoplasty is medical not cosmetic

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Correcting a deviated septum is a medical not cosmetic procedure. When a patient has nasal obstruction despite medical therapy such as nasal steroid sprays, that patient may need to turn to a surgical approach to straighten the septum and improve the nasal airway.

Usually correcting the septum does not change the cosmetic appearance of one's nose. Consult with your local board-certified otolaryngologist (ENT) surgeon. If you are interested in having a rhinoplasty to change the cosmetic appearance of the nose and the septoplasty at the same time, then consider visiting a double boarded ENT-facial plastic surgeon.

Good luck!

Yael Halaas, MD
Manhattan Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

You might also like...

Deviated septum causing nasal obstruction may be covered by insurance

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

A deviated septum that causes nasal obstruction may be covered by your medical insurance. The requirements of some insurance companies are that it has been evaluated by a specialist, and does not respond to medical treatment (like allergy pills or nasal sprays).

Most septum surgery does not cause a change in your nasal appearance. There are occasional cases in which a correction of the nasal septum may change or improve external appearance, but that would be considered a secondary outcome of the operation, and therefore applicable to insurance. The best way to know what would be covered in your particular case is to see your local nasal specialist, and review your symptoms with him/her. The specialists office will be able to help you with your insurance coverage details.

Behrooz Torkian, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.3 out of 5 stars 17 reviews

Septoplasty Vs. Rhinoplasty

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}
A septoplasty is a surgery designed to improve breathing and to promote proper airflow to the nose. Meanwhile, a rhinoplasty- or nose job- is performed for aesthetic purposes. It is primarily intended to change the shape or size of the nose so that it fits in with other facial features. For this reason, a septoplasty is not generally considered a cosmetic procedure but rather, like you suggested, a medical requirement. 

David O. Volpi, MD
New York Otolaryngologist

Fixing Deviated Septum

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Correcting a deviated septum to improve breathing is generally considered a medically necessary procedure which would be covered by insurance. Ensure that you have the necessary supporting documentation from other physicians to meet your plan's requirements.

Kris M. Reddy, MD, FACS
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Deviated septum and cosmetic

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

No.  No. No.  If you have difficulty breathing through one or both sides and have supporting documentation that it is medically necessary then this is absolutely covered by insurance.

Shepherd G. Pryor, MD
Scottsdale Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Medically Necessary Nose Surgery - Septoplasty

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

The answer is no. A septoplasty is typically done for medically indicated reasons. Patients usually present with complaints of difficulty breathing thru their nose with no improvement from medical treatment. Because of this, medical insurance usually provides coverage for septoplasty surgery. If you are interested in also having your nose reshaped at the same time, I would recommend you consult with a board certified facial plastic surgeon in your area.

John M. Hilinski, MD
San Diego Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 44 reviews

Septoplasty for Correcting a Deviated Septum is Functional, Not Cosmetic

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

A septoplasty, is the name for the surgery used to correct nasal obstruction resulting from a deviated (crooked) septum. Because a septoplasty does not change the shape of the nose, it is not considered a cosmetic procedure and is usually covered by health insurance.

A septoplasty is performed by making an incision on the inside of of the nose. The nasal lining covering the septum (the midline partition of cartilage and bone that separates one side of the nose from the other) is lifted off of the septum. The portion of the septum that blocks the nasal passage is usually removed or relocated to relieve the obstruction.

C. Spencer Cochran, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 149 reviews

Septoplasty is not cosmetic

{{ voteCount >= 0 ? '+' + (voteCount + 1) : (voteCount + 1) }}

Absolutely not!  Although, I have had to defend it to some insurance companies. There is, however, often an associated external deformity that takes a Rhinoplasty, and the insurance companies get away with calling the Rhinoplasty cosmetic. 

James H. Fuller, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon

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.