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Medically Reviewed by:

Robert Applebaum M.D.

Rhinoplasty versus Septoplasty: What’s the difference?

Nasal surgery

The nose sits right in the center of your face. When it is aesthetically pleasing to you, it is a great feature.  The nose helps accentuate other features on your face and can increase your self-confidence.  However, if you dislike your nose, then quit the opposite may occur.  If you dislike your nose, then it may lead to decreased self-esteem and an overall displeasing appearance. There are several reasons why people consider nasal surgery. Some reasons include congenital deformity, injury to the nose, or even simply because they dislike the appearance of their nose.

While a “nose job” is a very familiar word, many people are unfamiliar with the different types of nasal surgeries. Rhinoplasty and septoplasty are two types of nasal surgeries that are commonly confused and often used interchangeably.  In actuality, they are two quite distinctly different procedures.   

Medical Introduction

Let’s first start with a little brief medical terminology lesson.  

  • Rhino-: Rhino is the medical term for “relating to the nose
  • -Plasty- plasty is the medical term for a procedure that restores, replaces, or repairs a part of the body.

Therefore if we put the two together we have rhinoplasty: repair of the nose

Rhino- + -plasty : repair of the nose


  • Septo-(or septum): Septo is the medical term for a dividing wall or enclosure. Relating to your nose, it is the structure inside your nose that separates the right and left nares (chambers of your nose).  The septum is composed of thin cartilage.  The septum is very vascular (has lots of blood vessels) and is the most common area that bleeds during a nosebleed.  Due to its thin structure that bleeds easily, the septum is prone to injury. The septum can often be shifted more to one side (either right or left).
  • -Plasty- plasty is the medical term for a procedure that restores, replaces, or repairs a part of the body.

Therefore if we put the two together, we have septoplasty: repair of the nasal septum

Another way to think of the two is that rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure that mainly focuses on repairing the inside structure of the nose, specifically the nasal septum. A septoplasty is a surgical procedure that mainly focuses on repairing the outer portion, the aesthetic appearance of the nose. 

Overall, plastic surgery has gained increasing popularity over recent years. This is partly due to huge advances in plastic surgery, including nasal surgery. According to a post on Harvard Health Blog, rhinoplasty is the most common facial plastic surgery.  Approximately 220,000 rhinoplasties are performed annually.  These nasal advances have provided surgeons with the ability to refine the nasal shape to create a more natural-appearing nose and also improve nasal functions such as breathing. In addition, the types of nasal surgeries have changed. Patients are now seeking customized nasal surgeries. 


Rhinoplasty is a surgical procedure that can significantly enhance a person’s overall facial appearance.  A critical component of rhinoplasty surgery is that the surgeon carefully pre-plans for the procedure, taking into account your facial proportion as well as examining the internal nasal anatomy.  These steps will enable the surgeon to develop the most effective treatment plan customized for your specific face.  Some things that rhinoplasty can offer include changing the shape of the nasal tip or bridge, decreasing the size of your nose, and also narrowing the diameter of your nostrils.

Open approach rhinoplasty: This surgical procedure offers direct contouring of the nasal cartilages to enable sculpting of the final desired shape. The open approach also allows for improved placement of invisible support graphs to improve aesthetic function. Open approach rhinoplasty is also beneficial in repeat surgery, where prior scar tissue may have formed. 

The Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, The Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery website has a video that shows the steps of open rhinoplasty surgery.  If interested, take a look: https://journals.lww.com/plasreconsurg/pages/videogallery.aspx?autoPlay=false&videoId=261


While the nose is clearly a key aesthetic component of the face, the main function of the nose is breathing and smelling.  Breathing may be obstructed due to a deviated or curved septum or by over-active mucous membranes.  Septoplasty surgery can offer improved support of the nasal framework and alleviating blockage.  In addition to breathing, smell (known as olfaction) may also increase after septoplasty.  

How much does a septoplasty cost?

The average cost of rhinoplasty costs between $3,000 – $12,000 USD. Various considerations are taken into account to comprise the cost.  It is not recommended to simply look for the cheapest price when choosing a surgeon.  Your best option is to choose a board-certified plastic surgeon that is experienced in nasal surgery, specifically the one you are interested in.


The good news is that your insurance may cover the cost of septoplasty surgery.  If you are having difficulty breathing or smelling, septoplasty may consider your septoplasty medically necessary.  Every insurance policy is different, so it is important to check with your insurance to see if your procedure will be covered.      

A Great Duo

There are times that rhinoplasty and septoplasty are performed simultaneously.  When possible, this combined procedure offers fewer procedures, less recovery time, and the potential for cost savings. Talk to your doctor about whether a combined rhinoplasty and septoplasty are recommended for you.

Do your research

It is a great idea to review before and after photos of the procedure that you are considering. This will help familiarize you with changes that procedure can offer as well as the type of work the surgeon you are considering performs. Take a look at some before and after photos of nasal surgeries performed by Dr. Robert Applebaum: https://www.applebaummd.com/procedures/nose/

Applebaum MD

 Dr. Robert Applebaum has over 25 years of experience in plastic surgery.  He practices at his office conveniently located in the center of Beverly Hills, California.  Dr. Applebaum’s patients attest to his meticulous quality of work.  He is extensively trained in cutting-edge surgical techniques and is an innovator in the field of laser surgery for plastic surgery procedures. He has also published several scholarly articles and scientific papers in the area of laser surgery.  He shares his expertise by educating and lecturing physicians worldwide in the use of lasers in the plastic surgery field. Learn more about Dr. Applebaum: https://www.applebaummd.com/the-practice/meet-the-doctor/

During your consultation, Dr. Applebaum will discuss different options with you and review the technique he will be using. In addition, you will be well informed of possible risks and expected recovery time.  His staff is well versed in his procedures. Dr. Applebaum conveniently performs his surgeries at his Four Thirty-Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is conveniently connected to his office. The team at Dr. Applebaum’s surgery center is proficient in his procedures, as only plastic surgery procedures are performed in the Four Thirty-Six Aesthetic Surgery Center.  This is a huge advantage compared to a hospital operating room where various types of surgery are performed and may lead to increased risk of complications such as infections.  The team at Applebaum MD will provide you with an excellent experience and complete the experience with a new, more confident you!

Medically reviewed by Dr. Robert Applebaum

Dr. Robert Applebaum is a world renowned and highly respected Plastic Surgeon who is Board Certified by the American Board of Plastic Surgery. In his nearly 30 years as a practicing physician, Dr. Applebaum has become known as an innovator in the field of laser technology techniques for plastic surgery procedures. He has published numerous articles and scientific papers about the use of laser technology and educates physicians worldwide on the applications of laser technology for plastic surgery. Dr. Applebaum primarily practices out of his private outpatient surgery center, Four Thirty Six Aesthetic Surgery Center, which is located in Beverly Hills.




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