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

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