What is a turbinate reduction? I see that it's often done with the septoplasty - are they always done together? Would I need both to help my breathing?
What is a Turbinate Reduction?
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Turbinate Reduction with Septoplasty for Deviated Septum
The turbinates are normal tissue inside the nose, which are made of bone and mucous membranes. The turbinates swell and contribute to nasal congestion due to many reasons, such as allergy, dust, smoke, pregnancy, gravity, etc.
Treatment starts with allergy medication and therapy. Nasal surgery is an option for persistent symptoms despite medical therapy. Turbinate reduction shrinks the turbinate, typically the inferior turbinate, to improve nasal breathing. Turbinate surgery is commonly combined with septoplasty for deviated septum repair, but may also be performed on its own.
Turbinate procedures can be useful
The turbinates are bones located on the side walls of your nose. They can swell in size and block the breathing passage. There are many techniques to reduce the size of the turbinates. Surgery on the turbinates can be done alone or in combination with another nasal procedure.
Turbinate Reduction Often Very Helpful
Have you ever tried Afrin? Afrin is a drug whose most notable affect is to shrink the soft tissue part of your turbinates. As mentioned, the turbinates are outcroppings from the sidewall of your nose on the inside. The largest is the lower (inferior) one and it is usually about as big around as a pencil and about 2 inches long running parallel to the ground (when you are standing).
For the most part, the differences you have in breathing through your nose from day to day or even minute to minute are a result of the turbinates swelling or shrinking. If Afrin clears your nose up, then turbinate reduction surgery will probably have positive affect. A partial removal of the turbinate is what I prefer as I find it to be most affective (I have had that surgery done to myself). Some surgeons use radio frequency energy or a coblator to "scar down" the turbinate. I don't find this to work as well in the long term. The down side to surgical partial excision of the turbinate is that it takes about 6 weeks to completely heal. You will have some crusting in your nose while they heal.
You don't want to completely remove the turbinates. Your nose may be dry and uncomfortable with excessive removal. They do serve a purpose which is to warm, filter, and humidify the air.
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The turbinates are three sea shell like erectile structures which project from the side walls of the nose which warm the air, convert the incoming air into laminar flow and trap dust and particulate matter. The lower or inferior turbinates are the largest and are frequently enlarged in cases of septal deviation and allergies.
When increasing the entry space available for air to flow through the nose not only is it necessary to swing a rotated/deviated septum back to the midline, but often the inferior turbinate(s) which is commonly enlarged on the opposite side may have to be reduced to increase the nasal airway dimensions. There are various methods to reduce the inferior turbinates.
What turbinate reduction?
Turbinate reduction is often done with septal reconstruction. It is often done together to optimize breathing. This is to regulate the airflow that needs to be altered if you’re having functional nasal surgery.
Turbinate reduction with septoplasty
Turbinates are structures inside your nose composed of erectile tissue that help to direct the nasal airflow. Sometimes the turbinates become too large and block normal airflow instead of directing it. Reducing the size of the turbinates often improves breathing, so it is commonly done in conjunction with septoplasty.
A turbinate reduction is a general term used to describe a surgical procedure where the turbinate (usually lower turbinate) is made smaller. The turbinate is a an anatomic structure made of bone and mucosa that sits inside the nose. It helps to cause turbulence to the airflow entering the nose. This moistens the air as you breathe it in and forces some of the air up into the top part of the nose where the sense of smell has most of it's fibers. Some patients have overly large or inflamed turbinates which can block some of the airflow. By reducing them the air can flow more easily through the nose and improve breathing.
These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.