Avoid Empty Nose Syndrome

How can I avoid getting an “empty nose”?Empty Nose Syndrome

Many patients have had sinus issues for years and have begun to do research about how this condition can be corrected. During their research they see a frightening condition called empty nose syndrome resulting from sinus surgery. This syndrome is described as a dry and chronically congested nose with constant associated sinus infections.

Understandably patients can be concerned that if they proceed with a sinus procedure that they may end up with this complication and therefore they are quite hesitant to seek care.

What is Empty Nose Syndrome?

Empty nose syndrome goes back to the 1970’s and 1980’s when ENT doctors and plastic surgeons would frequently remove the lower turbinates as part of a nasal procedure. They thought that this would improve the nasal breathing and did not understand the negative consequences of this removal. These lower turbinates serve to filter, humidify, and warm the air as it enters the nose. Once removed a dry, cold, and unfiltered air robs the nasal lining of moisture. The lining becomes chapped and vulnerable to bacterial colonization. It also disrupts the cilia from functioning and creates an environment prone to sinus infections. Ironically the patient is more congested not less as the dry environment creates crusting, infection, and inflammation.

By 1990 it was evident in the literature that the practice of removing part or all of these lower turbinates was not appropriate. Unfortunately there are still many ENT doctors and plastic surgeons that still do turbinate removal procedures. Many also remove other vital structures in the nose such as the middle turbinates and ethmoid sinus cavities which also may leave the patient with empty nose syndrome.

How Turbinate Reduction & Balloon Sinuplasty Can Help

A reduction of the turbinate with a technique similar to liposuction is the correct procedure (submucosal turbinate reduction). In this procedure the turbinate is entirely preserved with a simple removal of the swollen inflammation under it’s lining. This preserves all of the turbinate function and makes the patient breathe better.

Balloon sinuplasty with preservation of the middle turbinates and all of the normal ethmoid sinus anatomy also allows for resolution of chronic sinus issues without the risk of empty nose syndrome.

Schedule a Consultation

It truly is buyer beware as unfortunately many ENT surgeons and plastic surgeons are still working with outdated concept of removing valuable intranasal and sinus anatomy placing the patient at risk for an empty nose syndrome.

If you are contemplating a nasal or sinus procedure contact us for a second opinion to hear about the modern non-invasive strategies that can resolve your breathing and sinus issues and not create empty nose syndrome.

Posted in: Sinus and Nasal


  1. I am looking for stuffy nose relief that does not cause empty nose syndrome. I am in iowa. How to find an ent who know this syndrome and how to help patient but not give them empty nose syndrome.

    Comment by Diana nighswonger on February 18, 2020 at 4:11 am

  2. Hi Diana, I am unaware of any ENT surgeons in Iowa. If you decide to choose a physician in Iowa, I would address your concerns with them. Dr. Slaughter sees many patients that live out of state. If traveling to Austin, Texas is an option for you, we would love to help you. Let me know. 512-601-0303. Thanks

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on September 21, 2020 at 8:43 pm

  3. Iv’e had 4 rhinoplasties dating back to 1969 from a fractured nose acquired in Vietnam. I fractured the dorsal bone from trauma to my face. 3 of the surgeries were reconstruction of my septum & the dorsal bone. My present C T scan shows an S shaped septum with partially removed inferior turbinate on the left side, and a damaged middle turbinate caused by cauterization. My symptoms are headaches on the left side of my face with chronic bleeding on the right side of my nose. These symptoms started after my first surgery in 1969. I have always exspirieced a feeling of suffocating and not getting enough air. After reading an article on empty nose syndrome, I decided to contact your office. I live in S. California. Do you have an office or accociates in this region. Please contact me. Thank You

    Comment by Gregory A Delgado on February 23, 2020 at 6:20 pm

  4. Hi Gregory, We have had a couple of physicians from California visit Dr. Slaugther to learn his technique. I do not know if they have implemented it though. Here is this link listing all the visitors we have had at the clinic https://www.sinussnoringent.com/giving-back/. We have also had many patients from California travel to Austin for care. If you are interested in this option, please give us a call at 512-601-0303. Thanks!

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on September 21, 2020 at 8:40 pm

  5. I had a sinus perforation repair 10 weeks ago and now have a lot of the symptoms of ENS could this have happened to me my life feels unbelievable

    Comment by Anne Townsley on March 31, 2020 at 4:51 am

  6. I’m so sorry to hear this Anne. I hope you are getting some relief. We do have some treatments to help assist patient that have ENS. Please call us if you would like some assistance. 512-601-0303.

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on September 21, 2020 at 8:17 pm

  7. Hi there I wonder if you could shed any light on this. I had a microbleeder cauterisation of the inferior turbinates before the operation the nose ra quote thin into my mouth. 8 months after the surgery my nose became dry and drains back into my head so it feels like my head is glued up affected by weathers was fine in any weather before. I have a normal CT Scan and normal MRI they say its not sinusitus. I dont know if its atropic rhinitus my breathing is good but I get thick mucus forming in my head instead of draining fine at the bottom of the turbinates. Can the turbinates grow back if they were cauterised. I take 6 to eight antishitamines a day. No nasal spray works as the nose is quite dry now. I also take 5mg of prednisolone a day. If the weather get hot I get white foaming mucus in the mouth. Can you suggest anything that I can take to stop this happening. Its making me panic when I go out as when I come back indoors it makes me feel like my head is glued up. I do feel i slight burnign pain in the middle towards the back of my head. Is there anything I can do to stop this from happening when i go out. I never ever had a problem with outside weathers. Does this sound like empty nose symdrome to you. I notice that the nose is more wide open now. Its just the head congestion is driving me mad. Tried all the antishitamines cetrezine loratidine Zirtec all the over the counter ones. I just want to know why its not watery from the bottom anymore. be so greatful for your advice. I am also on mobile 07941 935186. Kind Regards Karen Wagner

    Comment by Karen Wagner on March 11, 2021 at 3:47 pm

  8. Hi Ms Wagner, I am sorry to hear that you have been suffering. We are happy to help but Dr. Slaughter really needs to do a physical evaluation and review the CT scans to answer your questions, see what is causing the problems and determine how to treat the issues. Please call our office to schedule a consultation. We look forward to seeing you. 512-601-0303.

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on March 25, 2021 at 4:13 pm

  9. i’ve been suffering for +5 years from severe nasal/sinus congestion with continual issues with pressure in my ears. I’ve had surgery to correct a deviated septum, with the suggestion this would correct the situation.
    I’ve tried steroids, nasal sprays, nasal flush with steroids, ointments, etc… These occasionally provide minimal levels of relief.
    I’ve had multiple scans often showing no obstructions.
    I can experience “positional relief” when doing certain yoga stretches(usually childs pose).
    Certain times of day I will be able to dislodge large “boogers” that provide temporary relief(2-15 minutes). Steam showers also provide dislodging and temporary(2-15 minutes of relief). Most recently I have had significant amounts of post nasal drip, which I’ve never experienced.

    Comment by Bryan Sullivan on March 20, 2021 at 11:26 pm

  10. HI Mr. Sullivan, Thank you for your comment. I am sorry to hear that you have been suffering for so long. Would you like to visit Dr. Slaughter for an evaluation to see what is causing these continued issues? If so, please call our office at 512-601-0303. Thank you!

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on March 25, 2021 at 4:08 pm

  11. I have had two nasal surgeries in the past year. the first was in May of 2020 very extensive with turbinate reduction, septum and Balloon sinuplasty. I wasn’t healing and changed ENT Doctors because the didn’t seem to know what to do. The second Doctor said that I was not draining and did a second balloon sinuplasty, opened the passages to 6mm. After many antibiotics because of infection. I have ENS and am miserable. Is there any known relief? I have developed anxiety, with sleep issues. I have dryness with stinging and some deep pain at times. I can hydrate my nasal passages but my sinuses still dry out. saline is not much help. As you know this is a 24/7 condition and never know from day to day how I will feel, . My nasal /sinus passages are wide open, per the CT scans. It appears that Im getting to much air for the turbinate’s to handle. I am not sure which procedure did this. My ENT Doctor has basically given up.
    I live near New Braunfels Texas so I could make and appointment if you think you can help.

    Comment by Wayne E Nelson on April 14, 2021 at 12:36 pm

  12. I do recommend you coming in to see Dr. Slaughter. He can help.

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on May 10, 2021 at 4:05 pm

  13. What are the treatments for empty nose syndrome. I hv all of the symptoms after one full blown nasal surgery to include turbinate reduction then balloon treatment by a second doctor, My current ent doctor has basically given up. My ct scans show clear sinuses. This has not only caused breathing issues but anxiety issues as well. Question is: What are the ENS treatments available that will provide relief?

    Comment by Wayne nelson on April 17, 2021 at 2:52 pm

  14. Hi Mr. Nelson, For patients that arrive at our clinic that already have ENS, Dr. Slaughter performs a balloon sinuplasty (if there is sinus disease) and antibiotic washing, as a simple office procedure, along with specialized moisturizing nasal sprays that we can have made by a compounding pharmacy. The resected turbinates can also be plumped back up with a special injection using a natural filler called Restylane. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Slaughter to see if to ensure you do have ENS and to get a treatment plan that works!

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on May 10, 2021 at 4:04 pm

  15. I used a nasal spray for 2 weeks, I haven’t had any surgery before. My nose is suddenly dry and feel like I’m suffocating. There’s no mucous in the nose anymore. What can I use to moisturize my nose again and breath properly?

    Comment by Paballo Modise on August 1, 2021 at 7:03 am

  16. Hi Paballo, Dr. Slaughter would need to see you to see what is causing your issues. Nasal sprays do usually cause drying. I would recommend stoping the nasal spray and see Dr. Slaughter to find out what is causing your issues and find a real solution.

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on August 18, 2021 at 6:54 pm

  17. Hello, i had turbinate reduction and septoplasty and it all went fine, my breathing was improved.
    After it, however, i had decided to do cosmetic surgery in which the surgeon put 2 extended spreader grafts from rib cartilage to straighten the septum. The problem is that now i have ENS symptoms, I can’t breathe well and the air enter the nose very fast. And no one seems to think that the spreader grafts cause this symptoms. I don’t know what to do. I do think that the grafts opened my airflow too much but it is such a rare case the nobody could agree with me

    Comment by Beni on October 16, 2021 at 1:29 pm

  18. Hi Beni, Would you like to see Dr. Slaughter to evaluate your nose to see if it truly is ENS and what can be done about it?

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on October 29, 2021 at 7:17 pm

  19. My son (27 years old) has been diagnosed with ENS. He previously had surgery to repair a broken nose and has suffered extensively since that surgery with feelings of suffocation, extreme anxiety, sleeplessness, etc. He’s even gone to the E.R. a number of times insisting that he cannot breathe and they tell him that air is going into his lungs.

    He has since seen another ENT who said, ” you could park a bus in there … the turbinates are gone.”. The doctor referred him to Metro Health in Cleveland; however, the doctor who treats ENS there is on sabbatical. They referred him to Dr. Das in Columbus but they have told me he is no longer accepting ENS patients. My son feels completely hopeless.

    We live in Michigan. Do you have any affiliates who are skilled at treating ENS any place in or near Michigan?

    Comment by Sue Synor on October 28, 2021 at 2:22 pm

  20. I’m so sorry, we do not know anyone in that area. Please read this other blog by Dr. Slaughter on what to do if you already have ENS. If you are interested in an appointment in Austin, please reach out at 512-601-0303. We wish you all the best!

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on January 21, 2022 at 8:09 pm

  21. I have turbinate reduction 6 months ago and I have developed stoic ENS

    Comment by Guillermo solorzano on March 21, 2022 at 1:33 am

  22. Hello Guillermo, I’m so sorry to hear this. Have you spoken to the surgeon that did your procedure about this? Dr. Slaughter is happy to evaluate your situation and assist if they can’t help you.

    Comment by Sinus & Snoring Specialists on July 25, 2022 at 10:00 pm

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