Turbinate Surgery- Ear Nose And Throat (ENT)

Turbinate surgery, also known as inferior turbinate reduction, is a type of surgery where the inferior nasal turbinates are examined and decreased in size to improve airway flow in the nose. This procedure is commonly performed through the nostrils on the two sides of the nose.

Turbinate surgery is usually performed in an operating room under general anesthesia. Oftentimes, this surgery is performed along with other procedures to enhance nasal breathing, such as sinus surgery, nasal endoscopy, nasal septoplasty or nasal cautery.

Why is turbinate surgery required?

Many people encounter issues with their nasal turbinates every once in a while. These issues, and the breathing troubles that go with them, may resolve on their own or with medical treatment.

Some usual and reversible reasons for turbinate growth include:

  • Allergies
  • Infections
  • Weather changes
  • Stress
  • Medications
  • Hormonal changes

However, there are also some reasons for turbinate enlargement or dislocation that may not be corrected by medical treatment and may require turbinate reduction. These causes include:

  • Long-term infections
  • Severe allergies
  • Anatomic issues with the nose

Turbinate reduction is also suggested for individuals who will also undergo septoplasty, which is a procedure to to treat a deviated septum. A deviated septum results from the movement of the bone and cartilage between the two nostrils. It can cause pressure in the turbinates and difficulty in breathing.

Turbinate reduction can open up further the airways in a person who has undergone septoplasty.

Which doctor to consult?

Talk to a otolaryngologist/ENT surgeon, who will explain to you about the procedure, the risks and after-care.

What to expect during turbinate surgery?

There are some ways to decrease the size of the turbinates. Some procedures may be less invasive than the others.

Cauterization, coblation, and radiofrequency reduction

In some cases, doctors may suggest surgical procedures that can reduce the turbinates without removing bone or tissue.

To do this, a doctor may use a special needle-like device that warms up the turbinates with radio waves or heat. This causes scar formation, further lessening the turbinates' size.

These procedures generally take around 10 minutes and can be performed under local anesthesia in the doctor’s office. Local anesthesia is infused into the nasal tissues with a needle. These procedures are often used to mild turbinate enlargements.

Surgical removal

In some cases, the doctor may suggest that parts of the turbinates be removed. These methods are typically done in an operating room under general anesthesia.

You should not eat or drink previously, the night before the procedure. You should likewise abstain from taking drugs that contain aspirin or ibuprofen for two weeks before the procedure to decrease the risk for bleeding.

In this procedure, the doctor incises into the turbinates to remove a portion of the bone underneath them, to lessen their size. They may likewise utilize a small device that can shave away a portion of the tissue around your turbinates to further open up your nasal cavity.

Surgery to remove bone or tissue encompassing the turbinates is usually done for more serious turbinate enlargement. It's usually done during a septoplasty.

A septoplasty likewise involves slicing into the nasal cavity to address a deviated septum.

Post-operative care

Recovery time may vary for each procedure. For less invasive procedures, recovery is typically fast and not very painful. In around three weeks, the new scar tissue in your nose should have healed.

For more invasive procedures, recovery can take for three to six months. The doctor may pack your nose with bandage for a week after surgery.

To prevent bleeding and swelling, you should avoid strenuous physical activities and cleaning or blowing your nose for a few weeks after your procedure.

Your doctor may likewise suggest that you lift your head while sleeping and wear attire that attaches at the front instead of garments that are pulled over your head, to avoid disturbing your nose.


There may be fewer side effects for less invasive procedures. For around three weeks, you may encounter crusting or nose dryness. To help relieve these side effects, you may use nasal irrigation and antibiotic ointments.

For more invasive procedures, removal of bone or tissue may happen. Side effects may include:

  • Pain
  • Bleeding
  • Swelling
  • Irritation
  • Dryness of the nose
  • Infection

There's additionally a possibility that turbinate tissue may regrow after the procedure, making the patient undergo further turbinate surgery again.


  • Turbinate Reduction: Before and After, Recovery, Side Effects, and Cos. Healthline. Published 2019. Accessed January 14, 2019.
  • Turbinate Surgery. Published 2019. Accessed January 14, 2

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