Deviated Septum - Worth Having Surgery?

I know some of you like @Nate_Pearson have/had deviated septums. I have one as well - for as long as I can remember I’ve mainly breathed through my mouth. If I had to breath through my nose while sleeping, I’d probably be dead. This leads to dehydration while sleeping and (from a recent podcast) in riding.

Sometimes I can breath fairly fully through my nose but this isn’t often. I still do try @chad’s advice to breath through both my nose and mouth during heavy workouts.

My question for those who have had surgery, was it worth it? I feel like I can continue living like this since it’s what I know, but how did it affect your life and (more importantly?) cycling performance?


I had FESS done in February. I can breath so much better. I find it very stressful not being able to breath through my nose. It finally came to a head late last year when I got a sinus infection that just wouldn’t go away (actually, I think it’s still hanging around… this nose stuff is absolutely atrocious). The CT scan showed all my sinus cavities were basically full of fluid. I’m told my septum was part of the problem, but clearly not the sole problem as I was able to alternating between sudafed and afrin and flonase and irrigation and be able to nose-breath more often than not (so soft tissue issues).

If you’re not having sinus infection or nasal polyp issues, I think getting your septum straightened is an easy (expensive) win. That said, I’ve learned that surgeons are far more optimistic about outcomes than they should be, so be sure to ask lots of questions. And of course if you’re happy with the current state, there’s always the possibility things go sideways afterwards. If you are also having infection issues, my take is there is more to it than just “fixing the drainage” like the ENTs will say.

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For me it was 100% worth it. I’ve had two nasal surgeries and I might have a third. It really wasn’t very painful. The second surgery I only used Tylenol.

What DOES hurt is a tonsillectomy. That thing knocked me out for three weeks.

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Yep. Worth it for me. Much better breathing 24/7. Performance wise… zero difference. I was still racing with the post-op crap still stitched in up my nose blocking it for a week or so not a problem.

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Extremely worth it for me. I was born with it and then had my nose broken when I was 12 and that completely covered one nostril. Unfortunately I had it fixed when I was 19 and not earlier on and it really hurt my sports performance when I was young. But in some ways it was life changing and was certainly a breath of fresh air after!

Like the guys above I also suffered from continual bouts of sinus infections, xrays would show my sinuses full of gunk and they couldn’t drain themselves properly.

Part of the issue was a deviated septum, doc asked when I broke my nose and I didn’t know I had, it was a 90 degree angle so when I suffered from even hayfever, the nasal membranes would swell and close off that nostril.

I had the septum fixed and a functional sinus operation done at the same time. That removed a few polyps and opened up the natural drainage channels.
All told it probably took me nearly a year to recover completely, I couldn’t properly blow my nose for about 10 months, but I have never had a sinus infection since - that was probably 18 years ago. The nostril blocking off was cured immediately.

Everything was done through the nostrils which I found equally amazing and bizarre.

@fasterthanever - just curious if you went ahead and looked into/had surgery? I’m in exactly the same situation as you, and considering looking into my local doctor options. I’m not really concerned about performance, but am hopeful it would have a big impact on my sleep quality. Just need to get through a pandemic first maybe… :slight_smile:

My recovery was very cumbersome (for lack of a better word) not painful or anything like that, but it was 2 weeks sleeping in a chair (do drain the blood out) and all the cleaning around it. I did the full shebang: septum, adenoids and sinus.

The first time I had a full inhale after recovery and everything removed from my nostrils… OMG it was amazing!!!

I would do it again!


Had septoplasty/turbinate reduction in November of 2018. One of the best things I ever did. I used to only be able to breathe through one nostril most of the time and was congested constantly. Since, I’m a nose breather. I only needed Motrin and rest.

Unequivocally and 100% worth it, no question.

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Let me chime in. I was getting strep throat once every quarter, like clock work. I couldn’t breathe too well out of both sides. For me, it was a no-brainer. I’ve been cured of all nasal issues post-surgery, and that was back in 2010

Completely worth it.
Gone my nose broken at 13. Lived breathing through my mouth until I was 42.
Game changer.
I had both a septoplasty and a turbinectomy. I am not dehydrated anymore in the morning. I don’t snore anywhere as badly, my sleep apnoea is mostly gone (that’s influenced by other factors though)
Downside is that for a long while after, I had bouts of sinus infections because my sinuses hadn’t been exposed to anything in a long time, and I tend to have a runny nose when exercising :slight_smile:

Small price to pay.

I decided not to. Was not convinced that I should do it just for the hope of improvement.

I’d say yes. I breath better for sure. Get a good surgeon though. I have a hole in my septum now :pleading_face:. I found that out from the next surgeon.

It’s an unpleasant experience post surgery FYI. Not painful but bloody. Tough sleeping sitting up until that settles down.

I had it done about 12 months ago. 100% worth it…from a health perspective. I constantly fought sinus infections. Went through 7 rounds of ABX in 2019 before my surgery in September. Not good. Since the surgery, haven’t had any sinus infections or abx. Post op I flushed with a nasal rinse twice daily and have kept up that habit. Performance wise, I have had no noticeable improvement with breathing. My surgeon repeatedly said I should be breathing much better, but that has not been as dramatic as the lack of infection.

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I never really had sinus infection problems and doctors never said anything. Wondering though, when at rest if you keep your mouth closed and only breath through your nose is it normal to feel slightly out of breath (i.e. want to open your mouth to breath better) or should nasal breathing be enough?

If you’re at rest, you should’t feel out of breath just breathing through your nose.

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I don’t get sinus infections and very rarely get sick, but I would not make it twenty minutes if I had to breathe only through my nose. One side is somewhat passable, the other side I have to draw pretty hard to get anything through. Nose breathing with even a slightly elevated heartrate - walking up stairs, whatever - is a complete no-go. Is this likely impacting my sleep and/or quality of life? Or is it just kind of is what it is if I’m not getting sick?

So, some people just prefer breathing through their mouth – to each their own. As to myself, I find life very stressful with reduced nasal airflow. Sudafed and afrin work wonders and I sleep sooo much better taking them regularly, but never resolved the underlying issues.

I got my sinus surgery about 18mos ago and now much improved. I still have some kind of fairly persistent infection, but I’m largely able to manage it with sinus rinsing. I’d say I can breath as well without medications now as I could before the surgery with meds. Not as well as I’d like, but way better. One small benefit of regular cardio for me, it really tends to open my sinuses up and helps clear out some gunk.

I didn’t/don’t get “sick”, either, except for the persistent stuffiness (which did turn into a full-on sinus infection again mid-cx season last year), so I wouldn’t be so quick to assume “it is what is”. I planned to go back and my surgeon to revaluate, but his whole group quit last fall and started a new practice up a few cities away, and then covid. Oye.

If you haven’t seen an ent, you really should at least get a consultation. Your problem may be nasal polyps as opposed to a deviated septum. Or maybe both.

I am the same, just used to it.

I had sinus surgery 3 years ago due to chronic sinusitis like many in this thread seemed to also have experienced.

While I am now happy that I got the surgery, and my sinus situation is infinitely better than it was in the past, recovering from the surgery was one of the most brutal experiences of my life. I was literally pouring buckets of blood and guts out of my nose for weeks. One of my eye sockets also became extremely swollen and it looked like I had an alien growing inside of my face.

While there is a good likelihood for improvement, beware of the misery you may face during the immediate aftermath.

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