Turbinate reduction surgery is performed to reduce the size of these vital structures and improve airflow through the nose.

The Anatomy of the Inferior Turbinate

The inferior turbinate is an elongated structure inside the nose. It’s about the size of an adult index finger and is composed of an inner floating bone wrapped with a mucosal lining. Both the bone and the lining affect the turbinate’s size and shape. The primary function of the inferior turbinate is to humidify the air as it passes through the nose, although it helps to heat and filter the air as well.

As such, it plays a critical role in ensuring optimal nasal breathing. There is an inferior turbinate on each side of the nose, resting against the nasal passageway and running parallel to the septum. There is also a superior and middle turbinate, though the inferior structures are the most intimately involved with normal nasal breathing. As such, they are the turbinates that are most commonly addressed during this procedure.

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Benefits of Nasal Turbinate Surgery

On each side of the nose exists an inferior turbinate that is responsible for cleaning and humidifying the air as it moves through the nose and into the lungs. When this structure swells and becomes enlarged, it results in congestion and breathing difficulties. The goal of turbinate surgery is to reduce the size of the inferior turbinate and restore your ability to breathe with ease.

For most patients, turbinate surgery can successfully:

  • Improve nasal breathing
  • Minimize post-nasal drip
  • Reduce nasal drainage

Conditions Treated by Nasal Turbinate Reduction

  • Allergies
  • Anatomic nasal deformities
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Chronic turbinate infections 

Who is a Candidate?

Those with chronic conditions (including allergies or infections) may be candidates for the surgery. At your initial appointment with a SFENTA provider, they can help determine if you are a good candidate for nasal turbinate reduction or if another treatment may be more suitable for your condition.

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What to Expect During Your Procedure

Several techniques are available for turbinate surgery, and all of them are performed entirely within the nose. As such, there are no external incisions or visible scarring. To begin the procedure, your Miami ear, nose, and throat physician will use a small, lighted endoscope to obtain a magnified view of the area. They will then use small surgical tools to make a small incision in the mucosal lining of the turbinates. From there, your surgeon will likely use a blend of the following approaches:

Reduction of the Turbinate Bone

Both radiofrequency ablation and cautery of the turbinates are only able to address the mucosal lining. However, in many cases, the inner bone is also too large and must be reduced as well. When this occurs, your surgeon will make a small incision along the front border of the lining to expose the bone underneath. Through that opening, they will then reduce and re-position the turbinate bone to improve nasal breathing.

Radiofrequency Ablation

With radiofrequency ablation, your surgeon will reduce the size of the turbinates from the inside out. Using a needle-like instrument, they will transmit energy to the lining of the turbinates to damage the area and reduce its size. This surgery is performed under local anesthesia and lasts about ten minutes as an outpatient procedure.

Cautery of the Turbinates

This approach requires general anesthesia and can be performed as an outpatient procedure. Using a fine probe, your surgeon will administer high heat levels to shrink the mucosal lining down to size.

Enlarged turbinates often accompany a deviated septum. Turbinate reduction surgery is frequently performed with a septoplasty to ensure that all of the structural problems contributing to breathing difficulties are successfully resolved.

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SFENTA has created a network of providers and practices that make comprehensive ENT care more accessible. With over 50 board-certified providers and more than 30 locations, SFENTA is always ready to help. 

Our office provides each patient with:

Patient-Centered Care

We provide genuine one-on-one care between you and your providers, ensuring that you feel seen and that your concerns are heard.

Continuity of Care

Our goal is to help you find long-lasting relief from the symptoms that are impacting your life.

A Network of Highly Trained Physicians

Our provider network is designed to foster internal collaboration between doctors, which leads to unique perspectives and ultimately better patient outcomes.

The Security of a Community Staple

With over 30 locations across the area, we’ve made finding quality care more straightforward and more accessible.

Your Surgical Experience

Following turbinate surgery, most SFENTA patients experience an immediate and substantial improvement in their symptoms. These results often continue to progress over the next few weeks as the area heals. There is a fairly substantial recovery period associated with turbinate surgery.

Many patients experience discomfort in the treatment area which can be managed with prescribed pain medication. Some dizziness, nausea, vomiting, drowsiness can also be expected, along with nasal discharge and crusting. It’s important to leave any crusting alone, as peeling it off could cause bleeding. 

In most cases, the effects of surgery will dissipate shortly. After about one week, you will return to your surgeon’s Miami office so that they can remove all dressings and evaluate your progress. In general, most patients can expect a full recovery within two weeks.


What are the risks?

Turbinate reduction surgery is very safe, especially when performed by a board-certified ear, nose, and throat physician. However, all surgeries carry some degree of risk, and a turbinate reduction is no different. These risks include infection, excessive bleeding, an inability to correct breathing difficulties, re-growth of the turbinate tissue, and a perpetually dry nose.

With 37 convenient locations across the South Florida area, we’re never far away.

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