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Inferior Turbinate Reduction (Turbinoplasty)

Inferior turbinate reduction surgery, also known as turbinoplasty, can improve nasal breathing and provide relief for patients suffering from nasal congestion due to enlarged turbinates. Houston-area Sinus Surgeon Dr. Shawn Allen is a fellowship-trained Rhinologist and Board-Certified Otolaryngologist (ENT) who utilizes his skill and experience to offer a range of nasal congestion and sinus solutions, including inferior turbinate reduction surgery.

Relaxed woman on balcony breathing in

What Are Turbinates?

Turbinates consist of bony plates surrounded by thick layers of mucosal lining that reside within the nasal passages. There are three pairs of turbinates in your nose, and their purpose is to filter, warm, and humidify the air you breathe. The inferior turbinates are most prominent and are often visible just inside of the nostrils. These turbinates in particular can become swollen or enlarged as a result of infection, allergies, nasal decongestant abuse, fluctuations in hormone levels (such as pregnancy), or genetic predisposition.

Young man holding hand to his head while sitting in bed

Conditions Treated with Inferior Turbinate Reduction

Inferior turbinate reduction surgery is primarily used to treat nasal congestion caused by inferior turbinate hypertrophy, or enlargement, which has failed to improve with consistent use of topical nasal steroid sprays for one or more months prior to surgery. Inferior turbinate hypertrophy and the associated nasal obstruction symptoms may be associated with other symptoms such as headaches, sinus pain, snoring, or sleep apnea with associated pauses in breathing while asleep. An inferior turbinate reduction procedure can improve nasal airflow and significantly ease these associated symptoms.

Sinus endoscopy

How Does Inferior Turbinate Reduction Work?

Turbinate reduction procedures work by restoring normal size to the inferior turbinates, thereby improving airflow within the nasal passages. There are several techniques that may be used to reduce hypertrophic turbinates, including radiofrequency reduction or ablation, microdebrider submucosal resection, traditional submucosal resection of bone through an incision, or cauterization. Dr. Allen can explain the differences and help determine the best choice for each patient during their evaluation in the clinic.

Dr. Allen is precise in his reduction of the turbinates to ensure proper breathing function while minimizing the risks of surgery. He performs all procedures endoscopically, which means there are no visible incisions or scars because an endoscope will be used to access the nasal airways.

Before Surgery

If you are experiencing chronic nasal congestion, you should schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Allen. He will perform an examination, review your medical history and CT findings, and answer your questions before reviewing treatment options with you. If inferior turbinate reduction is recommended, he will provide detailed instructions to follow leading up to and after surgery.

What to Expect During Your Procedure

Inferior turbinate reduction is typically an outpatient procedure. Patients can expect to receive general anesthesia, which will ensure their comfort throughout surgery. Dr. Allen will review your treatment plan with you prior to surgery so you understand exactly what will take place. There are several different surgical techniques he may use and he will let you know which approach is best for your needs.

Recovery After Inferior Turbinate Reduction

After inferior turbinate reduction, you will need a friend or family member to drive you home. You may experience temporary mild discomfort and fatigue, which typically peaks 2 to 3 days after surgery as the body’s healing process causes some swelling in the surgical area. Patients usually feel much better 4 to 5 days after surgery, especially if they adhere to all post-op guidelines such as keeping their nose clear using saline rinses and avoiding nose-blowing. Dr. Allen will schedule a follow-up appointment to monitor your recovery about 1 week after your procedure.

Frequently Asked Questions About Inferior Turbinate Reduction

Am I a Candidate for inferior turbinate reduction surgery?

Dr. Allen specializes in diagnosing the underlying cause of chronic nasal and sinus symptoms—especially those that do not respond to antihistamine, topical steroid, or decongestant medications. If he determines that your nasal, sinus, or sleep issues are caused by an enlargement of the inferior turbinates, then he may recommend turbinate reduction surgery as part of your treatment plan.

What are the risks of inferior turbinate reduction surgery?

While Dr. Allen prioritizes patient safety, any surgical procedure involves some risk of side effects or complications. Complications are rare following Inferior turbinate reduction procedures and may include nosebleeds, adhesions or scarring that requires correction within the nasal cavity, prolonged crusting following cautery or radiofrequency ablation, and paradoxical nasal obstruction symptoms despite the nasal airways appearing open (a complex condition known as Empty Nose Syndrome, or ENS). These complications can generally be prevented with selection of the appropriate technique for a given patient and conservative removal of tissue to avoid ENS.

Can enlarged turbinates grow back after surgery?

In rare cases, turbinates Trusetd Source Checkbox Trusted Source Turbinate Reduction Cleveland Clinic Go to Source may eventually enlarge and obstruct nasal breathing again , but for most patients this procedure provides permanent relief from the nasal congestion caused by enlarged turbinates. Recurring turbinate hypertrophy is more likely in those with poorly controlled severe allergic rhinitis, sinusitis with nasal polyps, or ongoing nasal decongestant abuse following their turbinoplasty procedure.

Can inferior turbinate reduction surgery be combined with other procedures?

Yes, as most patients have more than one anatomical factor or condition that contributes to their nasal symptoms and would therefore benefit from multiple interventions. Inferior turbinate reduction is frequently combined with septoplasty surgery to repair a deviated septum. It may be combined with other types of sinus surgery as determined by Dr. Allen during the initial evaluation and following any appropriate initial medical treatments that may fail to improve symptoms.

Dr. Shawn Allen

Contact Dr. Shawn Allen

Dr. Allen is dedicated to helping people in The Woodlands, Houston, and surrounding areas in Texas find relief from chronic sinus and nasal conditions. Contact us today to take the first step towards breathing better!

1 Cleveland Clinic. Turbinate Reduction. Available: https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/22805-turbinate-reduction Accessed December 20, 2022.

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Dr. Shawn Allen has either authored or reviewed and approved this content.

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