Enlargement of the inferior turbinates is a frequent cause of chronic nasal obstruction. Turbinates are made of bone and are covered by a soft tissue called the mucosa. They are located inside the nose, near the septum. The space between the septum and turbinates allows air to pass through the nose, regulating airflow. Turbinates also help to humidify and clean the air inhaled through the nose.
The nose has three pairs of turbinates, the largest being the inferior turbinates located at the lowest point in the nose. Enlargement of the inferior turbinates can be caused by swelling of the mucosa, or by ill-positioned turbinate bones. Allergies, temperature swings, and acute sinus infections also can cause turbinates to swell. If the inferior turbinates are too large, they can cause a nasal obstruction in one or both sides of the nose. Enlarged turbinates and nasal obstruction can cause headaches, sleep disorders, such as snoring and sleep apnea, nasal drip, and can affect a person’s daily activities by making it hard to breathe through the nose.
If the nose’s airflow is blocked and the chronic congestion can’t be treated with medication, an inferior turbinate reduction or removal may be recommended to restore the ability to breathe with ease.
What happens during a Turbinate Ablation?
The complete procedure is done through the nostrils, so there is no need for concern over a scar on the nose. The doctor will use an endoscope as a guide, which is a small long tube with a lighted camera attached at the end that magnifies the structures inside the nose and makes them visible on a monitor.
A small incision is made in the lining of the turbinate. Depending on the severity of the blockage, the inner bone is reduced as well as the thickness of the mucosa, or the bone’s surrounding tissue. During and after the procedure, the doctor will try to alleviate and stop any bleeding.
Preparing for an Inferior Turbinate Ablation
When scheduling this procedure, you will be given detailed instructions on how to prepare for the procedure. Instructions may include avoiding certain medications and avoiding food and drinking for a certain number of hours before the procedure.
As with all medical procedures, alert the doctor to any allergies.
You may want to schedule a few days off before returning to work.
Recovery from an Inferior Turbinate Ablation
Once you are ready to leave the Surgery Center, you will be given directions on how to take care of yourself and the affected area. Recovery will be based greatly on how much bone, mucosa or excess tissue was removed. Patients generally feel a bit stuffy in the beginning but immediately notice an improvement in their breathing. There may be some crust around the nose, and there may even be some bloody crust over the first week. That is normal. Your doctor may recommend using a humidifier or saline nasal spray to help alleviate the crusting around the nose.
No bruising or physical change in the shape or appearance of the nose should occur.
If you’d like to learn more about Turbinate ablation, please call us at (970) 494-4800.