The nose is made up of many structures, including the septum, the nasal tip, and the nasal turbinates. Nasal turbinates are very small projections of bone and soft tissue found in the nasal passages.
The turbinates help keep the air moist and at a comfortable temperature. This is one of the reasons why breathing does not feel uncomfortable even when the outside temperature is low.
Sometimes, the nasal turbinates are too big and can block airflow through the nose, causing difficulty in breathing through the nostrils. When this happens, a person is forced to take in air through their mouth.
The turbinates can swell due to allergies or other factors. Often, doctors might prescribe medications to reduce the swelling. This can open the blocked air passage and help the patient breathe comfortably again.
However, medications sometimes fail to resolve the problem. In these cases, the doctor may recommend surgery to correct the problem.
Turbinate Reduction Surgery
Turbinate reduction surgery is performed to reduce the size of enlarged turbinates and thus remove airflow blockages. The surgeon is careful to reduce the size of the turbinates without removing them entirely. This is because the turbinates play an important role in keeping the interiors of the nose moist. Without the turbinates, breathing might feel painful or discomforting, because the interiors of the nose would feel dry.
Before the surgery, you will need to tell your doctor if you are taking any kind of medications or supplements, have any medical disorder, or are pregnant. You might be asked to stop smoking or drinking alcohol for a time.
Surgery may be conducted using local or general anesthesia. Some doctors may prefer to use a tiny camera called an endoscope to help locate or see the turbinates better. An instrument called a microdebrider removes the excess tissues from the turbinates.
Depending on how the surgeon sees fit, the turbinate reduction surgery might be performed using various methods. Some methods involve simply removing a section of tissue from the nose. Other methods involve heating the tissue so that the turbinates shrink. The turbinate tissue may be partially removed by removing the tissues in the interior parts of the turbinates and leaving the outer tissue intact. This helps reduce the overall size.
Sometimes, surgeons may reposition the turbinates so that they do not block air flow through the nose. Another option would be laser ablation, where a laser beam is used for shrinking the turbinate.
This is a generally safe surgery. Some patients may experience temporary pain or a swollen feeling in their nose after surgery. Accumulation of fluids in the nose may also occur. These issues are not very difficult to manage and can be rectified easily using medications prescribed by the doctor.
After a few days, the turbinates heal to a great extent and the patient ceases to feel any discomfort. Some patients may be required to keep their nose moist during this time using sprays recommended by the doctor.
In Need of Turbinate Reduction Surgery?
For those patients in need of turbinate reduction surgery, a consultation with Dr. Paul Nassif is highly recommended. Dr. Nassif, a surgeon and rhinoplasty specialist, will be available to examine the nasal area and recommend a solution. Contact our office to arrange your consultation.