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What is a Turbinate Reduction?

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?

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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.

Toronto Facial Plastic Surgeon
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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.

Louis W. Apostolakis, MD
Austin Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

Turbinate Reduction

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.

Peter A. Aldea, MD
Memphis Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Turbinate Reduction?

The superior, middle, and inferior turbinates are outcroppings of the inner aspect of the lateral nasal passage which increase the surface area of the nasal mucosa.  The function of these structures is to warm and humidify the air that we breathe.  Enlargement of any or all of the turbinates can be secondary to anatomical air cells in the bone that forms the turbinates or due to allergy.  Although turbinate resection/ reduction has been heavily utilized in the past, its efficacy is questionable and over-resection leads to distinct problems.  If the issue the patient is suffering from is allergy, it makes more sense to treat the allergy than to treat the turbinate anatomically.

Stephen Prendiville, MD
Fort Myers Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 45 reviews

Turbinate Reduction

Turbinate reduction is generally performed to decrease the size of the inferior nasal turbinates. Turbinate reduction It is usually undertaken to improve symptomatic nasal airway obstruction when the size of positioning of the turbinates is judged to contribute to those symptoms. Turbinate reduction is often performed in conjunction with septoplasty, but they are not always performed together. Whether or not one or the other of these procedures are indicated in your case would depend upon your symptoms and the surgeon's findings during physical examination. For individualized advice, consult with a qualified nasal surgeon about your concerns. Good luck to you.

James M. Pearson, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 40 reviews

What turbinate reduction?

 There are 3 sets of turbinates on each side of the nose. These are the superior, middle, and inferior turbinates. The inferior turbinates of the only ones that are operated upon for airflow obstruction in the nose. The turbinates are fingerlike projections on the inside of the nose warm and humidify air as  it is breathing in.  Many patients have hypertrophy of the turbinates due to allergies, hormones,  altitude and air pressure changes and sinus problems and may end up becoming enlarged and blocking the air flow through the nose. There are multiple procedures that can be performed to reduce the size of  the turbinates such as submucous resection of the turbinates and outfracture.

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 60 reviews

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.

Rod J. Rohrich, MD
Dallas Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 20 reviews

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.  

Donald B. Yoo, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 21 reviews

Turbinate reduction

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.