Everyone snores from time to time, but for around 45% of men and 30% of women, snoring is a regular event. One common cause of snoring is obstruction of the nasal passageway, either by a deviated septum, enlarged turbinates or inflammation caused by allergies or a cold. If you have enlarged turbinates, a turbinate reduction procedure might help solve your snoring problem.
Learn more about your treatment options and whether reducing the size of your turbinates will help you sleep more soundly and quietly.
Under normal conditions, everyone has three turbinates on each nasal passage. The turbinates are small bones that protrude from the walls of the nasal cavity. They are covered in a mucous membrane and play a role in helping to keep the nasal cavity humidified. The turbinates also keep debris from moving too deeply into the nose and help control the flow of mucous.
When you breathe in through the nose, about 50 percent of the air you breathe passes through the first two turbinates, the middle turbinate and the inferior turbinate. If either of those turbinates is enlarged, breathing problems can occur, including snoring while you sleep.
There are a few reasons why one or more turbinates might be enlarged in the nasal passages. In some cases, the hypertrophy, or enlargement, is due to inflammation caused by an irritant or allergen. In other cases, the enlargement might be something a person was born with or developed over the years. A concha bullosa is an example of a congenital enlargement. When a person has a concha bullosa, the turbinate is filled with air, making it bigger than it should be.
Turbinate Reduction Procedures
If you are looking for some relief from snoring and other treatments haven’t helped, turbinate reduction might be an option for you. Usually, surgery to reduce the size of the turbinates is performed after treatments such as nasal sprays and allergy medications have done little or nothing to help reduce snoring.
There are three main methods of performing a turbinate reduction. Each option varies in terms of invasiveness and what it actually does to change the size or shape of a turbinate.
During a turbinectomy, the goal is to reduce the actual size of the affected turbinate. The procedure can involve shaving the enlarged turbinate to reduce its size or removing the turbinate entirely.
Often, a turbinectomy is performed with the help of an endoscope, or a small camera, that allows a surgeon to see in the nasal cavity without having to make a large incision or open up the entire nose.
The goal of a turbinoplasty is slightly different from the goal of a turbinectomy. While a turbinectomy cuts away the tissue, a turbinoplasty seeks to change the shape or position of the problematic turbinate. A surgeon might also shave off part of the turbinate as he repositions it.
Both a turbinectomy and a turbinoplasty are performed while a patient is under general anesthesia. You won’t feel or remember anything from the surgery after it is over.
A third turbinate reduction option is considerably less invasive than the first two. The procedure shrinks the size of the turbinate by cauterizing it with either a laser or radiofrequency energy beam. Radiofrequency or laser ablation of the turbinates can be done with a local anesthetic. You won’t feel the procedure, but you will be awake during it.
Risk, Recovery and Results
No surgery is without risks, and that includes turbinate reduction. A few risks that are specific to turbinate reduction include a change in your sense of smell, scarring or crusting in the nose, and the development of a hole in the septum. Some patients experience relief from snoring, only to have their nasal blockage return.
Initial recovery after the procedure usually takes about a week. Your surgeon will most likely recommend avoiding exercise and other vigorous activities for several weeks, until your nose has had ample time to heal. Right after surgery, your nose is likely to feel more congested and stuffy than before. That feeling usually fades after a few days.
The results from turbinate reduction are usually fairly long lasting. After a laser or radiofrequency ablation procedure, many patients see an improvement in their snoring that lasts for about two years. After a turbinectomy or turbinoplasty, many patients see longer-lasting results.
Not everyone who snores will benefit from turbinate reduction. But if your snoring isn’t due to extra weight or a weak tongue muscle but stems from a problem with your nasal passages, reducing the size of your turbinates might help.
ABOUT DR. RUBINSTEIN
Dr. Rubinstein has nearly sixteen years of experience helping patients who snore or who have other problems with breathing in the Hudson Valley. A board certified facial plastic surgeon and board certified otolaryngologist, he has extensive knowledge of laser procedures, facial plastic surgery, and nasal and sinus treatments, which allows him to improve aesthetics as well as functionality of the nose and facial features. Dr. Rubinstein received his board certifications through the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery. To learn more about how turbinate reduction can improve your sleep and minimize snoring, schedule an appointment with Dr. Rubinstein at the Hudson Valley Sinus Center by calling 845-562-6673.