The turbinates are normal structures of the nasal passage. They are best described as curls of bone covered with soft tissue that projects into the nasal passage from the sidewall structures. In many patients, however, they become chronically enlarged and result in nasal obstruction.
Enlargement of the turbinates, especially the inferior - or lowermost - turbinates may occur in the setting of allergy, other chronic inflammation, or deviation of the nasal septum.
In these cases, attempts are made to reduce turbinate size with medication, especially topical nasal sprays. In addition, associated issues in the nose and paranasal sinuses must be appropriately considered and managed.
If medical management fails, however, the turbinates can be reduced through a brief and well-tolerated in-office procedure. With local anesthetic and occasionally with a gentle sedative pill, a targeted and limited procedure to reduce the turbinates can be performed. The procedure requires less than an hour and carries long-lasting benefit. The nasal airway is opened and breathing through the nose is improved.