Doctor Performed Septoplasty on Wrong Side of the Nose?

What action do I take since my dr. performed my Septoplasty on wrong side? The incision sites for both my septoplasty and turbinectomy are on the left side of my nose.

My deviated septum is on the right side and is clearly the same as before the surgery. I'm infuriated. How could this have happened?

Are there any increased chances of problems/risks involved with a corrective septoplasty/turbinectomy?

Doctor Answers 5

Common for right-handed surgeons to make septoplasty incisions along the left side of the septum

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

One of the most commonly used incisions during septoplasty is called the hemitransfixion incision.  For a right-handed surgeon, it's much easier to manipulate the septum when this incision is made on the left side of it.  It may be difficult to visualize, but the surgeon can access both sides of the septum through this incision and most surgeons always make this incision on the same side, regardless of the side of deviation.

With that in mind, the reason for your persistent breathing issues may be due to a number of factors, though residual septal deviation and persistent turbinate hypertrophy could certainly be the culprit.  

You do have a slightly increased risk of developing a septal perforation with revision surgery, but certainly in experienced hands this risk should be minimized.  

Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 63 reviews

There Is No Wrong Side Septoplasty

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

As some of the other surgeons have noted, there is no such thing as performing a septoplasty on the wrong side. While you may not have seen improvement after surgery, it does not have anything to do with which side incisions were made on. Revision septoplasty can be undertaken but I would also look into the possibility that you have some other nasal functional problem, such as alar collapse or internal valve problems, as about 20% of people with septal deviation need additional procedures to get optimal results.

D.J. Verret, MD
Dallas Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.2 out of 5 stars 13 reviews

Unlike your eyes, you only have one septum

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

In your body there are many paired organs; eyes, ears, lungs, kidneys etc.... Surgeons can and have operated on the wrong one. Not so for you septum. Its not possible to operate on the wrong side. You have naturally assumed since the incision is on the opposite side of your deviation and the deviation appears unchanged, the wrong 'side' was fixed. Instead you have had a failed Septoplasty. Unfortunately that happens, but its not malpractice, nor even poor surgery. Every surgery has a failure rate and with Septoplasty its in the range of 20%. Go back to your surgeon if you still have trust and talk about what the next step could be.

You might also like...

Hold back your anger...

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


The septum is a midline structure. There is no right or wrong side for the surgery. It all depends on your surgeons "entry point."

Now, a poorly performed septoplasty can result in no improvements of the septum or even make the septum worse. That is a different story. But it has NOTHING to do with what side the incision is on. There are many different incision types for a septoplasty.

The turbinates are a different story. Ask him to see which side he reduced. often it is done on both sides. You most likely will not be able to see any incisions for the turbinate reductions.

Don't get angry but do ask him what he did. Revision septoplasty can be difficult depending on how much of the cartilage and bone was removed.

Good luck

Shervin Naderi, MD, FACS
Washington DC Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 116 reviews

"Wrong side" septoplasty

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

I do not have an answer to the persistent obstruction, but the septum is a mid-line structure. I personally make an incision on both sides, but many right handed doctors operate though the left side only. That does no mean that the doctor operated on the wrong side.

Talk to your surgeon about the perceived persistent obstruction which may disappear after six weeks or so.

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.