Sinus Surgery

Does Turbinate Reduction Change the Shape of Your Nose?

June 22, 2022

5 minutes

Reviewed by Michael Kaplan, MD

Turbinate reduction is a minimally invasive, nearly painless inpatient procedure that can provide long-term relief to those suffering from chronic congestion and sinus infections, but does turbinate reduction change the shape of your nose?

Board Certified medical doctor Dr. Michael Kaplan, founding sinus specialist of Kaplan Sinus Relief, is here to offer insight on turbinate reduction, septoplasty, and how these procedures might be the answer to chronic sinus pain and congestion. 

Does turbinate reduction make your nose smaller?

Can swollen turbinates make your nose bigger? Swollen turbinates, while painful and inconvenient, do not make your nose bigger. While turbinate reduction can make your nose feel smaller by removing internal swelling and irritation, the turbinate reduction will not actually change the size of your nose.

Septoplasty, however, which is often done in conjunction with turbinate reduction, can change the shape of your nose. Septoplasty is a procedure that is done to repair a deviated septum, which occurs when the wall between nasal passages is not straight, causing reduced airflow, pain, and infections. While turbinate reduction itself doesn’t affect nose size or shape, if you are in need of a septoplasty you may want to ask your doctor about how your nose will be affected. 

Why is turbinate reduction done?

Turbinates are small structures made of bone and soft tissue that extend into the breathing passage of the nose near the septum. They exist to cleanse and humidify the air you breathe, filtering dust, dirt, and allergens as each breath travels through your nose and into your lungs. 

If turbinates become enlarged — specifically the inferior turbinate — it can cause nasal obstruction that results in trouble breathing and sinus infections. If you find yourself having trouble breathing through your nose, or can’t breathe through your nose at night, you may be dealing with enlarged turbinates. Some symptoms of enlarged turbinates are:

  • Excessive sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Sleep apnea
  • Headaches
  • Sinus infections

Your first step to improved breathing would be diagnosing the enlarged turbinates. If you are wondering if you’re suffering from turbinate enlargement, make an appointment with a sinus specialist like those at Kaplan Sinus Relief, they will be able to tell you. 

What causes turbinate enlargement?

There are many causes for turbinate enlargement, some of which will go away on their own and some of which would eventually require turbinate reduction. Essentially turbinate reduction is recommended if any of the following apply and you are unable to find relief with medications and other treatment. What causes turbinates to swell?

  • Allergies
  • Sinus infections
  • Weather changes
  • Stress (Continue reading: Can stress cause enlarged turbinates?)
  • Medications
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Deviated septums or other anatomic issues with the nose

What are the side effects of turbinate reduction?

Sinus surgery for allergy sufferers does have its side effects, but the side effects of these procedures — turbinate reduction in particular — often pale in comparison to the discomfort experienced over time from sinus issues. 

The procedure itself is in-office. You will be offered IV sedation so that you will be comfortable and calm during the procedure. A small incision is made in the lining of the enlarged turbinate and a small amount of bone is either removed or displaced to reopen the airway and improve breathing. It takes about 10 minutes and has very little recovery time or discomfort.  

If you’re weighing the pros and cons of turbinate reduction, there isn’t really much to think about. Turbinate reduction carries little to no side effects. You will be given saline solution and pain medication if necessary, but patients often only need a day or two of rest before they are back to their lives. 

If you have a deviated septum and require a septoplasty, Dr. Kaplan can realign, reposition, or reform your deviated septum. Septoplasty is also an inpatient surgery that doesn’t take very long (usually about an hour), but recovery time can be up to a couple of weeks. 

Continue reading: Sinus surgery recovery tips

Turbinate reduction surgery at Kaplan Sinus Relief 

Does turbinate reduction change the shape of your nose? Not unless you’re also getting a septoplasty, but even then changes to the shape and size of your nose are uncommon outside of severe cases. If you are having sinus trouble, and want to explore options to alleviate congestion and improve breathing, consider turbinate reduction surgery. With the right doctor, the shape of your nose should be the last of your worries. 

Whether you need a septoplasty or just inpatient turbinate reduction, Kaplan Sinus Relief and Dr. Kaplan are here to provide a long-term solution to your sinus problems. Request an appointment and take the first step toward relief today. 

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