The nasal turbinate refers to vital parts of the anatomy inside the nose that stop dirt and other particles from entering the trachea and lungs. Nasal turbinates are minute, cone-shaped, and are responsible for filtering out debris from the air we inhale. They regulate airflow and ensure bacteria, fungi, and other microorganisms don't seep into the lungs to cause infections. These minute, cone-shaped bones aid proper respiration. Still, when they become swollen or inflamed, the body experiences symptoms such as recurrent sinus infections, sleep apnea, chronic nasal congestion (steady catarrh), and more. That is when turbinate reduction surgery is required.
Turbinate reduction surgery
Refers to a surgical procedure performed by ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialists to reduce swollen turbinates while improving airflow and preserving the inner linings within the nose. This procedure is necessary when experiencing symptoms of nasal congestion because it helps remove excess tissues around the turbinates and brings about free breathing. There are three types of turbinate reduction surgery:
- Turbinectomy: Here, the removal of the inferior turbinate occurs. A tiny highspeed device alongside an endoscope is inserted into the nose to shave away all inflamed tissue and suction out. This procedure occurs with either local or general anesthesia.
- Turbinoplasty: With this technique, changing the position of the turbinates is the main focus. Turbinate tissue shaving only happens here in cases of severe nasal obstruction, and this procedure also uses either local or general anesthesia.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: This is the least invasive of all the procedures and takes place using local anesthesia. Here, an endoscope transmits radiofrequency energy into the nose to shrink the turbinates and clear them out. It is also common for septoplasty and turbinate reduction to be performed together, depending on the patient's condition.
- Septoplasty: Septoplasty refers to surgery inside your nose to correct nasal obstruction brought about by a deviated septum. This is done because a shifted or bent septum blocks the nostrils and restricts normal airflow. Septoplasty and turbinate reduction work concurrently because they rectify similar issues like recurrent sinusitis, stop chronic nasal congestion, and address conditions that block the nasal pathway
Pros and cons of turbinate reduction
Historically, turbinate reduction is known to have a success rate as high as 81% in treating breathing disorders. Still, just as it is in all spheres of life, everything with advantages also has downsides.
- Turbinate reduction surgery is an outpatient procedure with a minimal recovery time. You can change your regular business and work schedules just weeks after the surgery.
- It helps with any obstructions and clears your nasal airways. After the surgery, the patient experiences improvements in breathing and nasal airflow.
- It is known to reduce snoring and apnea, thereby resulting in more rest and less stress.
- It heightens and improves your sense of smell.
- It is vital in treating all severe nasal allergies, headaches, and congestion.
- Turbinate reduction surgery leaves traces of blood in your nasal cavity, which leads to nose bleeds after the anesthesia wears off.
- It sometimes leads to a condition where you can't feel the air that passes through your airways, known as empty nose syndrome.
- Though it varies from one patient to another, turbinate reduction surgery is known to cause a temporary loss of smell and taste after the procedure.
- It also causes discomfort after the surgery, but relief comes quickly with strict adherence to all post-procedure instructions.
Knowing the pros and cons of turbinate reduction is necessary before embarking on this procedure. Ensure you consult your healthcare expert when deciding the path best for you.
Turbinate reduction recovery
After nasal turbinate surgery, a patient usually has a short recovery time lasting between 7 and 14 days. During this time, one can return to work with certain exercise restrictions. Proper turbinate reduction recovery takes six weeks before fatigue, bruising, and crusting stop. Immediately after the surgery, as the anesthesia wears off, you will likely experience a burning sensation and some degree of pain, but this shouldn't exceed 2-3 days maximum. For full post-surgery recovery, strictly adhering to your surgeon's after-care instructions is vital.
If you are struggling with nasal obstruction or chronic sinusitis, contact ENT of Georgia South today to learn more about turbinate reduction surgery and whether it is right for you.