Risks of Turbinoplasty

May 02, 2024 | Patient Education

Turbinoplasty, also known as inferior turbinate reduction, is a surgical procedure designed to alleviate nasal congestion and obstruction. Dr. Shawn Allen, an experienced ENT specialist in Houston and The Woodlands, Texas, discusses a rare but significant risk associated with this procedure—Empty Nose Syndrome (ENS). Although ENS is uncommon, being informed about all potential risks is crucial for patients considering this surgery.

Watch Dr. Allen’s video to understand the specific risk of ENS and read on to learn more about this rare condition. 


Turbinates and Their Role

Nasal turbinates are vital components of our respiratory system. Located inside the nose, these bony structures are covered in mucosal tissue and play a critical role in filtering, warming, and humidifying the air we breathe. However, when turbinates become enlarged due to factors like allergies, infections, or environmental irritants, they can lead to nasal congestion and obstruction, significantly impacting your ability to breathe and function optimally. Turbinoplasty, or inferior turbinate reduction, helps alleviate these symptoms by carefully resizing the turbinates, improving airflow without compromising their fundamental functions.


The Risk of Empty Nose Syndrome (ENS)

One potential but rare risk associated with overly aggressive turbinoplasty is Empty Nose Syndrome (ENS). Historically, when ENT surgeons removed too much turbinate tissue aiming to create more room in the nasal passages, about 20% of those patients developed ENS. This condition is characterized by a paradoxical sensation of nasal obstruction, along with dryness and discomfort, despite clear nasal passages. Modern surgical techniques and a better understanding of nasal physiology have significantly reduced the occurrence of this complication.


Other Common Risks of Turbinate Reduction

While ENS is rare, there are several other risks associated with turbinoplasty that patients should be aware of. These include:

  • Scar tissue or crusting in the nose
  • A hole in the septum (septal perforation)
  • Loss of feeling in the skin on the nose
  • Change in the sense of smell
  • Fluid buildup in the nose
  • Return of the nasal blockage after surgery
  • Bleeding1

These risks are generally minor and can be effectively managed by an experienced ENT specialist.


Trust Your Nasal Health to Expert Hands

Selecting a skilled and experienced ENT specialist is crucial in minimizing the risks of turbinoplasty. Dr. Shawn Allen utilizes the latest surgical techniques and a thorough understanding of nasal anatomy to ensure the safest outcomes for his patients.

If you are considering turbinoplasty to improve your breathing, contact Dr. Allen in Houston or The Woodlands for a comprehensive evaluation. Trust your nasal health to a professional who prioritizes safety and effective results.


1Mount Sinai School of Medicine. Turbinate Surgery. Available: Accessed April 12, 2024

Schedule a Consultation

Call: (713) 791-0700 or Request a Consultation Online