Frequently Asked Questions About Turbinate Reduction

What You Should Know About Turbinate Reduction: FAQ’s

Enlarged turbinates, or turbinate hypertrophy, is a condition that happens as the result of chronic inflammation of the mucosal membranes that cover the turbinates. When these membranes become chronically swollen, they can develop prolonged nasal congestion.

Fortunately, there’s a solution, and the McAllen certified physician assistant Jonathan Lerma and his team of sinus relief specialists at the Glatz Group of Valley ENT are here to explain just what that is. 

What are the Turbinates?

The turbinates are comprised of bone and soft tissues and are found inside the nose by the septum. The cartilage and bone are aligned with a thin protective membrane called mucosa, which helps to maintain moisture in your nose. There’s typically space between the septum and turbinates to let air pass through the nose, and the turbinates help to warm and moisturize that air as it passes through your nose.

There are three turbinates in both nostrils–inferior, middle, and superior–but the inferior turbinates impact airflow the most. For many, the soft tissue part of the turbinates is the key issue where the turbinates become enlarged, causing nasal congestion, blockage, and obstruction.

What is Nasal Obstruction?

Nasal obstruction is a blockage of the nose or nasal cavity that affects your ability to breathe through the nose. As a result, those affected tend to breathe through their mouth, resulting in a sensation of a dry mouth. For others, these symptoms worsen at night and impact sleep. Learn more about Nasal Obstruction and what causes it here.

What are the Symptoms of Enlarged Turbinates?

  • Constant nasal congestion
  •  Difficulty breathing through the nose
  •  Snoring
  •  Nosebleeds
  •  Recurring Sinus Infections (Sinusitis)

How is Turbinate Hypertrophy Diagnosed?

Generally, we will ask you about your symptoms and conduct a nasal examination via a lighted, 4mm nasal endoscope. The endoscope will help to see the nasal and sinus passageways and figure out the source of your nasal congestion. For certain patients, CT scans and allergy testing may also be done.

What Treatment Options for Enlarged Turbinates are There?

When enlarged inferior turbinates are confirmed as the main contributing factor of nasal obstruction, turbinate reduction procedures may be recommended to reduce the size of the turbinates and improve breathing.

Two of the most commonly performed procedures include Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) and Submucosal Reduction (SMR). Both are efficient in shrinking the swelling of the turbinate mucosa and in decreasing the congested lining.

  • Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA):

In this procedure, a small probe is put in the submucosal area of the turbinate (between the inner turbinate bone and the outer mucosal lining) and low-power radiofrequency energy is applied to minimize tissue volume.

  • Submucosal Reduction (SMR):

For the SMR procedure, a small incision is made in the front part (head) of the inferior turbinate. Dissection is done by making a pocket in the submucosal lining for placement of a tool called a microdebrider. The microdebrider utilizes suction to pull in the engorged submucosal tissue of the inferior turbinate, and the rotating blades cut it down or shrink it. Once the submucosal lining has been reduced, the healing process begins and scar tissue forms to prevent the lining from swelling as it had prior to surgery.

What Other Options Do I Have to Open Up the Nasal Opening?

Moving or “out-fracturing” the turbinate bone may be suggested to particular patients to open up the nasal pathway. This is an additional operation that can be done alongside an RFA or SMR.

In an “out-fracture” procedure, the inferior turbinate conchal bone is moved or “out-fractured” from its usual midline position to a more lateral position alongside the nasal sidewalls. This permits the primary component of the nasal airway to open up,  enhancing improved airflow.

Can Other Procedures Be Done at the Same Time?

Yes, other procedures may be conducted at the same time as a turbinate reduction. When other factors contribute to nasal congestion–like a deviated septum, sinus polyps, enlarged adenoids, or a sinus blockage–they can be taken care of at the same time as turbinate surgery. We will discuss options with you when coming up with your treatment plan.

Is It Normal to Bleed Following Turbinate Surgery?

There might be some bleeding after turbinate surgery since the turbinates have a strong blood supply. Because of this, your doctor may suggest you use topical vasoconstrictor sprays like Afrin or Oxymetazoline to manage post-operative bleeding. If you notice any persistent or significant bleeding post-surgery, call your doctor immediately.

Is There Any Discomfort After Surgery?

Patients can anticipate a bit of discomfort after surgery such as fatigue, nasal stuffiness, and mild nasal drainage. The stuffiness is often a result of swelling after the operation and usually begins to improve after the initial week. You can use Tylenol to help deal with the discomfort.

Are Stitches Required?

Neither sutures nor stitches are required for turbinate reduction.

Will Turbinate Reduction Surgery Alter My Nasal or Facial Appearance?

Turbinate reduction surgery doesn’t affect the external appearance of the nose or face.

Meet with the Glatz Group of Valley ENT for all your Ear, Nose, Throat Needs

If you have any other questions about what to expect from Turbinate Reduction surgery, you can also refer to Jonathan’s first-hand experience with Turbinate Reduction in this video to give patients an idea of what to expect from the procedure. 

Due to COVID-19 concerns, we can address your symptoms through telemedicine based on your preference, comfort, and safety. If you need an appointment, you can rest assured knowing that we take the precautionary measures to protect our patients and staff. For a procedure done in our office, calls are also welcomed.

Find Relief for Your Nasal Congestion in Turbinate Reduction When You Visit the Glatz Group of Valley ENT!

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