A turbinoplasty is an operation performed to reduce the size of swellings (turbinates) that are present on the side wall of the nasal passageways.

What are the reasons that a turbinoplasty may be undertaken?

Nasal obstruction

In normal circumstances, the turbinates swell and shrink. This process alternates between the nasal passageways every few hours. However, in some individuals, the turbinates may swell excessively and may block the passage of air such that they experience a sensation of nasal blockage. If medical treatments have failed to control these symptoms, a turbinoplasty may be considered. This procedure may be combined with other operations on the nose such as a septoplasty or endoscopic sinus surgery.

What happens before the operation?

In your consultation with Dr. Michael, he will ask questions in relation to issues that you may be having with your nose. You will also have an endoscopy. This is a specialised examination where a fine camera (endoscope) is used to inspect the inside of the nasal passageways. Other tests such as investigating for allergies may also be arranged. Dr Michael works closely with colleagues at based in the private consulting rooms at the Royal Children's Hospital which is the largest private, specialist children's allergy clinic in Australia. Dependent upon what is found, Dr. Michael may consider medical treatments and other tests before advising upon surgery.

What does a turbinoplasty operation involve?

A turbinoplasty operation is mainly undertaken with general anaesthesia and performed through the nasal passageways without any external cuts.

Dr. Michael typically uses an endoscope together with other specialized instruments to reduce the bulk of the turbinates.

You may require temporary nasal packs. These are required in approximately 1 in 20 of the operations that Dr. Michael performs.

Are there any risks to having a turbinoplasty?

There are general risks associated with having an operation. These include nausea and vomiting, bleeding, infection and allergies to medicines or dressings used. When having an operation under general anaesthesia, other risks include blood clots in the legs or lungs, a stroke or a heart attack. However, the risk of these serious complications is extremely low. Your anaesthetist will discuss these with you prior to the operation. 

With regards to turbinoplasty, there are a number of specific risks. These are listed below.

The turbinates have a rich blood supply. Rarely, there can be excessive bleeding following the operations. This is usually managed by placing packs in the nose. If bleeding is not controlled, a short procedure under general anaesthesia may be required to seal blood vessels.

Scarring (adhesions) may occur between the turbinates and the nasal septum. These adhesions do not usually cause any problems but Dr. Michael may divide them when you are seen at your follow up appointments.

A revision operation may be required. Although the turbinates may be smaller at the end of the operation, they may regrow in time. Dr. Michael may recommend continued medical treatments to reduce the chance of this happening.

What happens after the operation?

There is usually no pain or external bruising involved and people typically go home the same day. If you required nasal packing, Dr. Michael may arrange for an overnight stay for observation. The nasal packs are then removed the day following the operation. Although, the operation is designed to improve breathing through the nose, you may feel congested (similar to a heavy cold) for a period of 4-6 weeks.

You will be seen at regular intervals to assess for complications and assess your progress.


Are there any precautions that I should undertake?

If you have a turbinoplasty alone, return to work would be possible in a few days if you undertake desk duties. Else, 1-2 weeks leave should be considered. You should refrain from exercise for 4-6 weeks.