In our nose, there are three pairs of turbinates which originate on the lateral walls of our nasal cavity. When the lowest pair of the turbinates or the inferior turbinates is enlarged due to allergies or some other condition, it results in nasal blockage causing breathing difficulty. If the inferior turbinates are reduced in size by turbinate reduction, it helps to improve the obstruction of the nose as it creates more space for inhaling air or breathing through the nose.
This can be done with a number of techniques. The most common method used is the submucous resection and also radio-frequency reduction. While in the operating room, these two procedures are often combined with a procedure known as outfracture. In this process, the inferior turbinates are pushed to the sides of the nose by which space for breathing opens up a little more. It is done by breaking the small thin bone which is inside the turbinate itself.
An insight into the different types of procedures for turbinate reduction:
The submucous resection of the inferior turbinates is done in the operation theatre under general anesthesia. In this procedure, a small cut is made in the lining of the inferior turbinates. Then the lining is lifted off the thin bone which forms the main structural support for the inferior turbinate. After removing the part of this bone and after the healing process which includes shrinking of the lining of the turbinate, the size of the nasal passage increases and creates more breathing space providing long term relief.
The radiofrequency turbinate reduction is performed in a chamber without any anesthesia. A specially designed probe with a needle is used which is placed in the turbinate and radio-frequency energy is transferred in order to heat up the tissues under the surface in a controlled way. The heating of the tissues creates damage, and the size of the inferior turbinates is reduced during the healing process. The whole procedure takes around 10 minutes. The risks of this procedure are comparatively low with little or no pain during the phase of healing. Sometimes one single session is not effective, and many patients require more than one session.
Risks of turbinate reduction:
The most common risk of turbinate reduction is nose bleeding. As the inferior turbinates have an excellent supply of blood, there is a chance of nose bleeding after the surgery. Another risk of turbinate reduction is the dryness of nose which is temporary, but in some case, it can be permanent. Also, any kind of surgery inside the nose can cause changes in the sense of smell. The sense of smell generally returns, but in some cases, it can also be long lasting.
Your doctor will be able to advise on the line of treatment best for your condition.