Turbinate Reduction Surgery

Within the nose are three pairs of built-in air filters called turbinates. Turbinates are fleshy structures that help filter, heat and add moisture to the air you inhale. However, sometimes they can become inflamed and cause a nasal blockage, impeding your ability to breathe naturally through your nose.

Why Is Turbinate Surgery Performed?

Woman taking in the fresh air

The goal of turbinate reduction surgery is to open up the airways so the patient can breathe more easily.

In most cases of turbinate inflammation, the turbinates return to normal size on their own once the underlying cause clears up. Common, reversible causes of turbinate swelling include:

  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Changes in weather
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Hormone changes

Causes of enlarged turbinates that tend to require surgery include:

Many people who get surgery to correct a deviated septum – called septoplasty – also get turbinate reduction surgery. A deviated septum is when the bone and cartilage between the nostrils is shifted to one side, causing compression of the turbinates.

How Is Turbinate Surgery Performed?

There are different ways to reduce the size of turbinates. Doctors make their recommendation based on severity of inflammation, anatomy of the nose and other factors.

Cauterization, Coblation, & Radiofrequency Reduction

In some cases, the turbinates can be shrunk without removing any bone or tissue. This is usually recommended for less severe cases.

With this type of procedure, a surgeon uses a needle-like device to heat the turbinate, causing scar tissue to form and reducing the turbinate’s size.

This takes about ten minutes and can be performed under local anesthesia in a surgeon’s office.

Surgical Removal

Sometimes parts of the turbinates need to be surgically removed. This type of procedure is usually performed in an operating room under general anesthesia.

To prepare for this surgery, you should avoid food and drinks the night before and day of. Avoid medications containing aspirin and ibuprofen for two weeks to reduce risk of bleeding.

During this procedure, the surgeon cuts into the turbinates to remove pieces of the bone beneath them in order to reduce their overall size. The surgeon will use a small device to shave away some of the tissue around the turbinates, as well, to open the nasal cavity.

This type of surgery is typically reserved for serious cases of turbinate enlargement.

For more information about turbinate surgery or to schedule an appointment, call Topeka ENT today.

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