Why is One of my Nostrils Bigger Than the Other, but Yet I Don't Have Breathing Problems? (photo)

Just wondering if I have what many say is a deviated septum. Just wondering what it would cost for a more symmetrical look.

Doctor Answers 11

Nostrils not matching

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It is probably one of the more common questions my patients ask. It is normal for nostrils to be different in size or shape. Nostrils typically do not effect breathing unless they are very small or collapse while breathing. No surgery is necessary if there is no problem with breathing through the nose.

Sacramento Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 228 reviews

Nostril Asymmetry

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You have a very pretty nose.  The nostrils are somewhat different.  No two nostrils are exactly alike.  It appears that the bottom portion of your septum or footplates are bulging out.  If you are not having breathing problems you don't need to do much. It does not seem worthwhile to have surgery just for that since it is not visible from regular angles and it is not causing any functional problems.  

Michael M. Omidi, MD, FACS
Beverly Hills Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 122 reviews

Nostril asymmetry

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Thank you for the photo and the question. As others have said, most people have some degree of asymmetry of the nostrils. In your case, it looks like either your septum is deviated to the left, making the left nostril smaller; or, your tip cartilage on the left (medial crural footplate) is flared out into the nostril space. Each of these problems can be addressed with rhinoplasty. However, if you like the way your nose looks and you don't have breathing issues, then nothing needs to be done.

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Asymmetric nostrils

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Your picture appears to show a deviated septum narrowing your left nostril.  Sometimes this is an unacceptable appearance to people and sometimes it causes nasal obstruction.  Patient's can report a variety of symptoms.  A consultation may be worthwhile to fully examine the nose.  There likely are  treatments that would improve your condition.

Christopher Cote, MD
Denver Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.4 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

Deviated septum

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You do have a deviated septum, but like many people it is not causing obstuction.  Very few people would have the opportunity to few your nose from that angle (other than your dog or lover!).  However, you do have a somewhat "boxy" appearing tip.  Both nostril asymmetry and tip could be addressed with a septorinoplasty.  The approximate cost would be about $5000 all inclusive. 

Jeffrey Marvel, MD
Nashville Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Asymmetric nostrils

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Actually most people's nostrils are asymmetric, we just rarely look at other people from that angle.  It does appear that the caudal (bottom) end of your septum is in the left nostril adding to the asymmetry.  If you are not bothered by your breathing, surgery is not necessary.  

Angela Sturm, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon

Asymmetrical Nosrils without Breathing Problem

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It is possible that your obviously deviated septum is not causing a breathing problem. But how do you know that you don't have any breathing obstruction? I once did a cosmetic rhinoplasty on the #1 woman tennis player in the world who told me she did not have any breathing problems. After I did her nose and septum she realized how poor her breathing had been.

Richard W. Fleming, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 43 reviews

Asymmetric nostril and deviated septum

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The reason one nostril is larger than the other is due to a caudal septal deviation.  There is likely some degree of nasal obstruction on the patient’s left side.  This septal deviation  is hugely due to some sort of prior trauma and can be fixed through a small incision inside the nostrils.  A rhinoplasty does not necessarily have to be performed unless the patient wishes to do so. For many examples, please see the link below to our rhinoplasty Photo gallery

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 158 reviews

Correction of a Deviated Septum

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From your photos, it's evident that the very front of your septum, what we call the caudal septum, is deflected into your left airway. This can obstruct the external valve of the nose and cause difficulty breathing for some patients. In these cases, correction of this deviation (septoplasty) may be considered medically necessary and insurance coverage could be obtained. 

If you are breathing normally, correction of this issue would likely be considered cosmetic. Straightening this cartilage would involve shaving the septum a bit and using sutures to straighten the deflected portion. If this were the only issue to be addressed, the surgery would be quite short (30 minutes) and could be done quite comfortably under a combination of light sedation and local anesthesia. Or, should you so desire, general anesthesia could be used. Your procedure could be done through a closed (endonasal) approach. Hard to give you a precise figure without an examination but a ballpark cost for a straightforward case such as this would likely be in the $3K range.

Best regards,

Dr. Mehta

Umang Mehta, MD
Bay Area Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 52 reviews

Nostrils and breathing C

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Clearly both of your nostrils are large enough for air to flow through them

the same must be true for the passage ways behind them


I see what you see 

the aperture of your left (to the right in the picture but your true left) nasal vestibule does appear smaller this makes the nostril look smaller 

the cause of this is likely caudal septal deviation


Why do you ask?

Adam Bryce Weinfeld, MD
Austin Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 63 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.