It is something of an open secret in entertainment circles that surgery to correct a deviated septum is often code for “nose job.”
There is an ounce of truth to this, of course: by definition, nasal septoplasty is a procedure which reshapes the tissues in your nose, correcting a midline problem to restore symmetry and better breathing to both nostrils. In that sense, there is an element of structural correction in deviated septum surgery.
The New York Times recently wrestled with the thin line (pun intended) that separates deviated septum surgery from full rhinoplasty, in which the outward appearance of the nose is reshaped to comport with the patient’s desires. The impetus for this essay was the diagnosis of deviated septum:
When I was 25, I visited an ear, nose and throat specialist who sat on his stool, awed by my deviated septum. “How can you even breathe out of your left nostril?” he asked. Indeed, from underneath, you could see that my septum leans so egregiously to the right that the left nostril hole is almost completely covered by the outer nostril cartilage.
Once you’re under the knife, as it were, that’s when the temptation begins to “correct” more than just the breathing. I have no dog in this fight, of course, and would never presume to judge any choices made by men or women in any medical milieu. But the fact remains that this euphemism is anything but: a deviated septum can be corrected with or without an accompanying rhinoplasty.