If you’re experiencing chronic congestion, your turbinates may be to blame. Turbinates are the built-in air filters within the nose. These fleshy structures help filter, warm and moisturize the air you inhale. However, inflammation and infection can cause them to become swollen, enlarged or displaced, causing nasal blockage and difficulty breathing.
A surgical solution called turbinate reduction can reduce or eliminate breathing problems associated with turbinate problems.
Why Is Turbinate Reduction Performed?
There are many reasons the turbinates can become inflamed, most of which clear up on their own over time. Common but reversible causes of turbinate enlargement include:
- Weather changes
- Certain medications
- Hormone changes
However, some causes of enlarged turbinates require surgical reduction. These include:
- Chronic infections
- Severe allergies
- Anatomical problems
Turbinate reduction is commonly performed during a septoplasty procedure. Septoplasty surgery corrects a deviated septum, which is when the bone and cartilage between the nostrils is shifted to one side.
How Is Turbinate Surgery Performed?
There are different ways to perform turbinate reduction depending on the severity of the blockage and other factors.
Cauterization, Coblation & Radiofrequency Reduction
In some cases, when the tubinates are not severely enlarged, a surgeon can shrink the turbinates without removing any underlying tissue or bone.
During these minimally-invasive procedures, a surgeon uses a needle-like device to heat the turbinate, causing scar tissue to form and reducing the size of the turbinates. This type of procedure takes about 10 minutes and can be performed under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office.
When the turbinates are causing a severe blockage, parts of them may need to be surgically removed.
During this type of surgery, the surgeon cuts into the turbinates to remove some of the bone beneath them, reducing their overall size. They may use a handheld device to shave away some of the tissue around the turbinates, as well. Surgical removal is performed in an operating room under general anesthesia.
How Effective Is Turbinate Surgery?
One study that sought to determine the safety and clinical effectiveness of turbinate reduction found that the clinic benefit of surgery persists at least six months after the procedure.
For more information or to schedule a consultation with an expert ear, nose and throat physician, call Arizona Desert ENT Specialists today.