Don’t believe everything you see on TikTok — the deviated septum trend is totally deceptive.
We’ve all had dreams of altering our features to disguise insecurities. Some of us even do it from time to time with makeup. Others go as far as getting cosmetic procedures to enhance, shrink and modify these features we dread most.
Don’t let the hype fool you, though, getting cosmetic surgery isn’t as easy or accessible as it looks.
TikTok users have been showing off their drastic nose jobs and claiming to their followers that a simple deviated septum diagnosis allowed them to get a free rhinoplasty. But medical professionals are turning their noses up at this trend and encouraging young people to look beyond the viral videos before rushing out to their doctors.
YourTango spoke exclusively to John Paul Tutela, MD. He’s a New York and New Jersey-based plastic surgeon who is best known for his expertise on natural-looking plastic surgery and his frank discussion of things like preventive Botox and bad plastic surgery.
Dr Tutela’s former patients include Jersey Shore’s Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and Angelina Pivarnick.
While Tutela is always open to young people learning more about the functions and benefits of plastic surgery, he is wary of medical misinformation that could be spreading on TikTok through these nose job videos.
But first off: What is a deviated septum?
Tutela tells us that, “Your septum is a thin flat piece of cartilage that separates one nostril from the other.” Generally, this piece of cartilage separates the nostrils evenly but in the case of a deviated septum, there is severe unevenness which can lead to breathing problems.
Deviated septums can be congenital, meaning you’re born with it and may worsen with age or an injury may create the deviation.
Minor deviations without symptoms usually go untreated but in severe cases where breathing problems, sinus infections, nose bleeds, or nasal congestion persists, treatment may be required.
“Typical treatment for a deviated septum that is symptomatic is removing a central portion of the serial cartilage,” Dr Tutela tells us.
This is usually called a septoplasty and silicone splints may be inserted to support the nose.
Inside the viral #deviatedseptumcheck TikToks
TikTok users have been self-diagnosing deviated septums and encouraging others to do the same by sharing before and after shots of their noses post-surgery.
The videos usually involve a drastic transformation and a completely reshaped nose and the idea conveyed is that if you can get a diagnosis of a deviated septum, your health insurance will cover the costs of a full nose job.
But what these videos fail to disclose is that these so-called “free nose jobs” come at a price.
“It is common that that surgery combined with symptoms can qualify for an insurance covered surgery,” Dr Tutela tells us, but these surgeries do not mean your doctor will agree to cosmetically alter the shape of your nose. Your doctor may not have the skills or expertise to carry out any alterations.
“Fixing a septum does not include changing the aesthetics to a hump on somebody’s nose or a wide tip. Those are separate procedures,” says Dr Tutela.
“Oftentimes surgeons will combine these procedures together and do it both an aesthetic and functional surgery at the same time,” Dr Tutela says, “[However], not every surgeon is comfortable doing both of these surgeries. Some surgeons focus on just a septum and some surgeons focus on just the aesthetics.”
And even if your doctor agrees to do it all in one, your health insurance provider may not agree to pay for it.
“Having a deviated septum does not necessarily mean you qualify for a free nose job. Again, the insurance-covered cost covers the functional aspect of the surgery,” Dr Tutela tells us, but any further additions to the procedure will probably not be covered by your insurance if it does not relate to your healthcare. “[The surgery price] does not include a door so hump or any tip work. That would be an added cost.”
Dr. Tutela has embraced how TikTok has opened up people’s awareness of the health benefits of plastic surgery, “This TikTok trend can be fun for some people and it may be a good starting point to open up a more serious research into their goals.”
But he wants people to know that relying solely on social media to give you important information about healthcare is always a risky move. “I always worry about people trying to diagnose themselves and coming up with a solution on their own, and then trying to farm that out to somebody who agrees,” he says, “It’s better to be seen in person by a board-certified physician and worked up appropriately.”
For more accurate and detailed information, Dr Tutela recommends visiting this webpage or consulting a doctor.
Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. She is a generalist with an interest in lifestyle, entertainment, and trending topics.