Turbinate reduction surgery is a procedure that shrinks the turbinates in order to alleviate chronic nasal congestion and nasal obstruction. The turbinates are small curved bones that extend horizontally along the wall of the nasal passage. Their purpose is to humidify and filter the air that is inhaled through the nose. The inferior turbinate fills the lower portion of the nasal airway and can become very swollen in response to allergies or infections. When a patient's turbinates are abnormally large and does not respond to traditional therapies such as antihistamines or antibiotics, surgical intervention may be recommended.
During surgery, the turbinate is shrunk by the placement of a surgical probe. Using radiofrequency, the submucosal tissue is vaporized while the muscosal layer is preserved to allow for continued nasal humidification. The procedure is relatively low-risk and can be done in the office under local anesthesia. Patients can return to work the next day and experience minimal pain or discomfort.