BREATHE EASIER WITH A TURBINATE REDUCTION
- Posted on: Jun 20 2022
Turbinates are small structures located on the sidewall of each nasal cavity. Their purpose is to filter, warm, and humidify the air that enters the nose before it hits the lungs. There are three sets of turbinates in the nose, but the inferior turbinates are the largest, and typically cause the most symptoms.
Turbinates are made of paper-thin bone which is surrounded by a mucous membrane. If the turbinates are exposed to irritants such as dust or smoke, environmental allergens, or infection, the mucous lining of the turbinate can become enlarged and swollen. This is referred to as turbinate hypertrophy.
Common symptoms of turbinate hypertrophy include nasal congestion and difficulty breathing. Many patients also experience congestion that alternates between both sides of the nose or worsens when lying down.
If turbinate hypertrophy lasts too long, the swelling can become chronic and irreversible. Patients with chronic turbinate hypertrophy are often good candidates for a procedure called submucosal turbinate reduction.
WHAT IS A SUBMUCOSAL TURBINATE REDUCTION?
A submucosal turbinate reduction is an outpatient procedure in which the large set of turbinates at the floor of the nose, the inferior turbinates, are reduced in size. During this procedure, a small puncture hole is made in the side of the turbinates and the excess fluid and tissue inside the turbinate is removed with suction. The small puncture hole then heals on its own, no stitches or packing is required. The procedure is performed in the office under IV sedation and is painless. Many patients will return to work the following day and will notice an immediate improvement in their nasal breathing.
HOW IS A SUBMUCOSAL TURBINATE REDUCTION DIFFERENT FROM A TURBINATE COBLATION OR TURBINATE RESECTION?
Turbinate coblation, cauterization, and radiofrequency reduction are techniques to shrink the turbinates without removing tissue from inside of the turbinate. During these procedures, the turbinate is heated using a specialized instrument. This is intended to cause scarring of the turbinate, which leads them to shrink. In our experience, turbinate coblation, cauterization, and radiofrequency techniques are ineffective and their effects are often temporary.
Turbinate resection on the other hand, is when the entire turbinate, including the bony structure inside the turbinate, is completely removed. We do not support turbinate resection, as it can lead to a chronic and irreversible condition called Empty Nose Syndrome.
WILL A TURBINATE REDUCTION CAUSE EMPTY NOSE SYNDROME?
Empty Nose Syndrome (ENS) is a potential complication that can result when the turbinates are removed or resected. The turbinates are important structures that filter, warm, and humidify the air inside your nose. They do a great job of regulating the temperature and humidity inside the nose and help keep the lining of the nose healthy. Therefore, if the turbinates are removed, the nasal passages can become dry, crusty, and susceptible to infection—which is called ENS.
Luckily, turbinate resection is an outdated technique that is not performed at Sinus and Snoring Specialists. If it is determined that your turbinates are enlarged, we may recommend you have a turbinate REDUCTION procedure, not RESECTION. A submucosal turbinate reduction is minimally invasive and will not cause ENS.
For more information about this procedure or other procedures performed at Sinus and Snoring Specialists, please request an appointment or call/text us at 512-601-0303.
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