Turbinate Reduction Surgery

Seasonal allergies can be difficult for almost anyone. Dust, pollen, and other irritants can cause congestion, sneezing, and coughing. The nose either feels stuffed up, or is a constant source of running mucus. However, for some people, this does not go away with a change in the seasons. They are congested all the time, and activities such as flying in airplanes or swimming can cause them a great deal of discomfort. They may even have difficulty breathing properly, or snore at night, which can interfere with the sleep cycle. Such patients may feel that there is no relief, as conventional medications often are not enough to alleviate the problem. However, a turbinate reduction surgery may be the answer these patients are seeking. Reducing the turbinates will increase the airflow, thus eliminating or reducing many symptoms.

What Are the Turbinates

Turbinates are wing-like, bony, shelved structures inside the nasal cavity. There are three pairs of turbinates: Inferior, middle, and superior. The middle turbinate leads to the nostrils and the outer structures of the nose. Along with the sinuses and the septum, the turbinates regulate the breathing process. The turbinates are lined with vascular tissue. If this tissue become thick or swollen, due to allergies or infection, it becomes more difficult to breathe, which can lead to congestion and other problems.

Turbinate Surgery

There are three main ways to reduce turbinates.

  • Somnoplasty or Coblation: This procedure can be done in the doctor’s office. A thin probe or needle is inserted into the nose to vaporize or cauterize the enlarged blood vessels in the turbinates. As the resulting scar tissue heals, it will pull tight the soft tissue of the turbinates, thereby opening up more space.
  • Submucous resection: In this surgical procedure, a thin rod with a rotation blade is used to remove some of the mucous lining of the turbinates in order to open them up. In some cases, a small section of bone is also removed.
  • Septoplasty: In a more aggressive surgical procedure, portions of the turbinate are modified, shrunk, or completely removed. The easiest way to do this is by removing the lower turbinate.

Risks and Side Effects

There is generally little pain associated with turbinate reduction surgery. If extensive work is needed, such as with a septoplasty, there may be some pain in the days after surgery. There will be some bleeding and swelling following the surgery, but these should subside within the first week or two after surgery. Dr. Vincent Marin may schedule follow-up visits to remove some of the excess mucus by means of a small vacuum tube.

Insurance Coverage for Turbinate Reduction

Unlike elective cosmetic surgical procedures, turbinate reduction should be covered by medical insurance. The procedure is meant to fix an existing functional problem that causes difficulty breathing. Dr. Marin’s office is more than happy to assist patients with any necessary paperwork, as well as with filing the claim.

There is no reason to suffer through another allergy season. Turbinate reduction surgery may provide patients with the relief they need. Contact Marin Aesthetics to find out if you are a good candidate for treatment.

About the Author:

Dr. Vince Marin is a San Diego board-certified plastic surgeon specializes in cosmetic surgery of the face, nose, breast and body. If you wish to contact Dr. Marin, write to [email protected] or you can follow him on Twitter!