• 3800 Reservoir Road, 1st Floor Gorman Washington, DC 20007
  • (202) 444-0757

Turbinate Reduction

Turbinate Reduction

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Background: The turbinates are shelf-like bones located on the outer wall on each side of the nasal cavity.  These are covered by mucous membranes. They warm, moisten, and filter the air as it passes through the nose on the way to the lungs.  Turbinates normally swell and contract as they filter air. When turbinates remain swollen, , they can cause chronic nasal congestion. Occasionally, this is able to be overcome with the use of a topical medicated spray, which you may have been offered prior to discussing this surgery.

Details of Surgery:

Turbinate reduction surgery involves a small incision (5 mm) at the front of each turbinate followed by gentle removal and repositioning of the thin layer of turbinate bone, often in combination with removal of a portion of the swollen tissue underneath the mucous membrane lining.

Post-operative Recovery

Arrange for someone to stay with you for the first 24 hours if you have undergone general anesthesia.
Go to bed and rest, lying on your back, with your head elevated with 2-3 pillows. You should be lying at a 45 degree angle.
You may be up and around and able to go to the bathroom. You will be able to eat a light meal with assistance.
Take medication only as directed.
Mild to moderate pain after surgery is a normal occurrence, which should be relieved by the pain medication prescription you have been given. Most patients require pain medication for less than 7 days after surgery.
Bloody drainage is expected from your nose after surgery and will gradually progress to blood-tinged mucous. You will have a drip pad placed under your nose that may be changed every 1-3 hours when saturated completely. This is often necessary for 2-3 days after surgery. If you have an active nosebleed with copious flow of blood, please call immediately and/or come to the ED for evaluation.
Gently place ice packs or a bag of frozen vegetables on and around the nose for the first 24 hours after surgery (on for 20 minutes, then off for 20 minutes).

You may be up and around as tolerated but expect to tire more quickly than usual.
Keep activity and meals light.
On the post-op day after surgery, start using nasal saline spray at least 3 sprays in each nostril at least 3 times per day (available over the counter from the drug store). This will help keep the nasal lining moist so as to avoid excessive crusting in your nose.
For the first 48 hours, be sure to keep the incisions clean and dry; apply petroleum ointment as needed. After 48 hours, you may shower; avoid scrubbing the surgical are and do not submerge your face in water. Any external bandages may be changed daily or as needed, if they become saturated.

You will come into the office for a post-operative check-up and to have your nose cleaned and any nasal packing and/or splints removed.
No alcohol for the first 7 days after surgery, which can increase bruising and swelling.

Your swelling and congestion will gradually fade over this time period, but may persist for up to 3 weeks.
No strenuous activity or heavy lifting for 2 full weeks after surgery.

1. Rest and good nutrition are important healing factors, especially during the first 6 weeks.
2. Numbness and tingling of the upper lip, roof of mouth, and /or upper teeth may occur, which resolves with time.