What's the Risk of Empty Nose Syndrome with Septal Surgery and Turbinate Reduction?

My ENT doctor says I need surgery for a deviated septum and enlarged turbinates. I was ready to have the surgery until I started reading about others getting Empty Nose Syndrome after having turbinate reduction surgery; and that is a terrifying thought. I know he plans to do a simple reduction, and not a full resection, but I still have doubts. He plans on using the submucosal xomed microdebrider 2mm. Do I need to worry about Empty Nose? Thank you.

Doctor Answers 4

Empty Nose Syndrome after Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction

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Empty nose syndrome happens when too much tissue is removed during turbinate syndrome.  By taking too much of the turbinate tissue changes the airflow and removes the tissue that "feels" the air going through the nose.  Without this, your body feels like the nose is obstructed.  The most important factor is that you and your surgeon have good communciation about having a conservative, partial reduction of your turbinates.  There are a number of methods for partial reduction of inferior turbinates.  Using a submucosal resection with a microdebrider is a good way to preserve the mucosa necessary for the sensation and "feeling" the air go through your nose.  Regardless of the method, your surgeon understanding the consequences of not being conservative is critical.

Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon

Submucosal resection with microdebrider for turbinate reduction

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Submucosal resection using a microdebrider is a great technique as it minimizes the mucosal injury and the subsequent crusting and scabbing associated with it.  When performed conservatively, ozena/empty nose syndrome will not be an issue.    

Donald B. Yoo, MD
Beverly Hills Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 64 reviews

Empty Nose Syndrome

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ENS can occur when too much turbinate tissue is removed from the nose, not septal surgery.  It is important to be conservative on the amount of reduction of the size of the turbinates.  We do not use any powered instruments in the nose.  

William Portuese, MD
Seattle Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.8 out of 5 stars 158 reviews

Empty Nose Syndrome

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Septoplasty has little or no risk for leading to empty nose syndrome.

Over resection of the turbinates which are the "humidifiers" of the nose can lead to the empty nose syndrome and a related condition known as ozena where patients have crusting and a chronic odor from their nose. Conservative surgery on the turbinates will prevent these conditions and the Medtronic Microdebrider can conservatively treat turbinate hypertrophy without leading to empty nose syndrome

Bradford S. Patt, MD
Houston Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 reviews

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.