What happens during the procedure?
The procedure is performed by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) surgeon under general or local anesthesia. Several techniques are used to reduce the size of turbinates. They are all performed inside the nose, and some are less invasive than others.
Cauterization, coblation, and radiofrequency turbinate reduction: Turbinates are shrunk without removing any underlying bone or tissue. A specialized needle-like device is inserted into turbinates. Turbinates are heated through the needle using a heat source or energy waves. This causes scar tissue to form, shrinking the turbinate. The procedure takes around 12-20 minutes and can be performed under local anesthesia. Patients can go home after the surgery and return to their normal activities. Pain and swelling associated with the procedure may be present, but this resolves in a few days.
Surgical turbinate removal: This procedure is more invasive but performed inside the nose, without any external visible cuts. It is usually performed under general anesthesia. It may be combined with nasal septum or sinus surgery. In some cases, only parts of the turbinates are surgically removed. During surgical reduction, the surgeon cuts into turbinates to remove some of the bone underneath to reduce their size. Some of the tissue around turbinates may be shaved away as well.
After surgery: Most patients can go home the same day or day after the surgery. The nose may be packed and dressed for up to 48 hours. Patients may experience swelling, bruising, crusting, and blood-stained nasal discharge after the surgery, which usually resolves in a week. Painkillers, antibiotics, and nasal and oral decongestants may be prescribed. Most patients can return to work in about a week and go to their usual pre-operative routine in about 3 weeks. Complete recovery can take 1-2 months if septal and/or sinus surgery are also performed.