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Inferior Turbinate Reduction

One possible cause of nasal congestion and nasal obstruction may be enlargement (hypertrophy) of the turbinates—bony and soft tissue projections that protrude into the nasal passages. Allergies can also contribute to internal nasal swelling, so an evaluation for nasal allergies may be recommended by your physician to eliminate it as a contributing factor.

Most people have three turbinates (inferior, middle, and superior) on each side of their nose. The turbinates increase the surface area inside the nose, and they serve to filter, humidify and warm the air we breathe and play a role in the ability to smell. In some patients, the nasal turbinate remains persistently enlarged or swollen and obstructs the airway to cause a congested feeling. These enlarged inferior turbinates narrow the nasal cavity and contribute significantly to nasal airway obstruction.

Treatment options for enlarged turbinates include medication, injection, freezing and/or partial removal with inferior turbinate reduction surgery. The method of treatment depends on the severity and size of the obstruction(s). Inferior turbinate reduction surgery can be combined with other nasal surgeries such as septoplasty - for deviated septum, and rhinoplasty for nasal reconstruction and/or cosmetic enhancements.
One possible cause of nasal congestion and nasal obstruction may be enlargement (hypertrophy) of the turbinates—bony and soft tissue projections that protrude into the nasal passages. Allergies can also contribute to internal nasal swelling, so an evaluation for nasal allergies may be recommended by your physician to eliminate it as a contributing factor.

Benefits and Goals of Turbinate Reduction Surgery

  •  To reduce turbinate swelling
  • To improve breathing by opening up the nasal airway

Turbinate Surgical Treatment

The procedure is perfomed as outpatient surgery under general anesthesia. Usually with the aid of an endoscope, a tiny isolated, a tiny incision is made inside the nose at the front of the turbinate, sliding an instrument under the lining, and shaving down the excess swollen tissue. The instrument is then removed, and the thinned lining is allowed to heal back onto the bone. The surgical area is usually not closed with sutures. Temporary packing made of absorable collagen may be used. The packing will either be absorbed or fall out within a few days following surgery.

This procedure is commonly combined with a repositioning of the bone out toward to side of the nose to allow more space in the airway. Most patients return to work the following day, and most insurance plans cover the costs of this procedure when medically indicated.

Possible complications of inferior turbinate reduction include bleeding, crusting, dryness, and scarring. Your doctor may prescribe a saline spray or irrigation to relieve dryness and enhance healing.