Turbinate reduction or nasal turbinate hypertrophy reduction is a procedure used to decrease enlarged nasal turbinates (hypertrophic nasal turbinates) that cause nasal obstruction.
What is Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy?
Nasal turbinates are normal bony and soft tissue structures that grow from the outside walls of the nasal passageways. They help to warm and humidify the air we breathe through our nose, as well as filter larger particles of dust, debris, or allergens in the air. Hypertrophy refers to the enlargement of these turbinates, which can come from allergies, infection, or genetic predisposition. The diagnosis of nasal turbinate hypertrophy can be made by an otolaryngologist during your clinic visit by using a flexible endoscope to look in the nose, or it can be seen on a CT scan while looking for other sinus problems.
Symptoms of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy:
- Nasal obstruction of one or both sides of the nose
- Persistent runny nose or post nasal drip
- Decreased sense of smell/taste
- Sense of nasal congestion/pressure in the face or around the eyes
- Recurring/persistent sinus infections
Treatment of Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy
If nasal turbinate hypertrophy is caused by a bacterial infection of the nose or sinuses, your physician can prescribe an antibiotic. They may also prescribe an oral and intranasal decongestant, such as pseudoephedrine, phenylephrine, or oxymetazoline, for a short period of time to help reduce acute swelling of the turbinate. Nasal turbinate hypertrophy caused by allergies can be treated with over the counter antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, or nasal antihistamines sprays.
If your symptoms do not improve with medical treatments, your otolaryngologist may recommend a procedure to reduce the size of the nasal turbinates. This is typically done in the operating room under general anesthesia as an outpatient procedure. This can be done as a single procedure or in combination with other nasal or sinus procedures under the same anesthesia. Several different techniques are available to reduce the size of the nasal turbinates. These include removing just soft tissue, just bone, a combination of both, or the whole turbinate.
Pain from this procedure is minimal and can be control with over the counter Tylenol or ibuprofen. Patients typically wake up with a small drip pad under the nose to catch mucous and a small amount of bleeding that happens during the first few hours after the surgery. Most patients can return to normal activities within a couple of days.