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Turbinate Reduction


The nasal turbinates

  • The nasal turbinates are structures in the side walls of the nose that act to warm and humidify the air inhaled through the nose
  • Enlargement of the turbinates may cause a blocked nose or constant sensation of nasal congestion and stuffiness
  • Turbinate reduction surgery is also called turbinoplasty surgery and may be performed together with septoplasty, rhinoplasty and sinus surgery
CT scan in a patient with a blocked nose due to nasal septal deviation and turbinate enlargement

Reasons for turbinate enlargement

  • Exposure to substances that trigger allergy including dust, pollens, grasses or mold
  • Exposure to irritants including chemicals, smog and smoke
  • Long term use of nasal decongestant sprays
  • Sinus infection
  • Secondary to a blocked nose from nasal septal deviation

Treatment for turbinate enlargement

  • A blocked nose due to turbinate enlargement may be treated with medical or surgical options
  • Medical options for turbinate enlargement include:
    • Avoidance of allergens or irritants
    • Long-term nasal steroid sprays to control swelling
    • Nasal saline flushes
    • Antihistamines to treat allergy
    • Antibiotics to treat sinus infection

Inferior turbinate reduction – surgery to open the nasal passages

  • The main reason to perform turbinate reduction surgery is to treat a blocked nose that does not improve with medical treatment
  • Turbinate reduction surgery does not change the shape of the nose and no incisions are used
  • The surgery is performed through the nostrils and the excess tissue is removed to reduce the size of the enlarged turbinates and open the nasal passages
  • Turbinate reduction surgery is well tolerated and very effective treatment
  • The main complication of concern is nasal bleeding which is seen in around one in one hundred patients

Recovery after turbinate reduction surgery

  • Pain after turbinate reductions is usually mild and well controlled with Panadol or Panadeine as directed
  • After the surgery, dissolvable nasal packing may be placed to prevent bleeding
  • For best results nasal saline flushes are recommended – on each side of the nose 4-5 times a day, starting 24 hours after surgery, for 14 days

Follow up

Generally follow up after turbinate reductions will include:

  • A visit at 2 to 3 weeks to have the nose checked
  • A final surgical check up at 3 months
  • In addition you will need to be seen by your local doctor one week after surgery
  • You will need to ring to make appointments for these visits