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Function of Nasal Turbinates & Should You Opt For Turbinate Reduction Surgery?

What Are Nasal Turbinates & What Are Its Functions?

Nasal Turbinates, which also is referred to as the Nasal Concha, are vital structures present in the nose. They trap dirt, dust, and other particles when an individual breathes such that they cannot enter the lungs and cause problems. Anatomically speaking, there are three types of Nasal Turbinates in each nostril namely the inferior, middle, and superior. These spongy bony structures also provide heat to the air that the individual breathes which allows the lungs to function smoothly.

Sometimes, as a result of certain allergens or because of environmental changes these turbinates get enlarged and inflamed. This condition is termed as Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy. This enlargement normally happens with the inferior turbinate. When this happens, the nasal airway tends to get blocked and the affected individual may have persistent nasal congestion, recurrent sinusitis, and difficulty breathing through the nose which prompts the individual to breathe through the mouth, profound snoring, and nosebleeds.

Enlargement of Nasal Turbinates can be treated both conservatively as well as with surgery. The surgery for treating Enlargement of the Nasal Turbinates is called the Turbinate Reduction Surgery. This is a minimally invasive procedure and can be done as an outpatient. The question is whether an individual should opt for a Turbinate Reduction Surgery.

What Are Nasal Turbinates & What Are Its Functions?

Should You Opt For Turbinate Reduction Surgery?

A Turbinate Reduction Surgery is normally done to shrink the size of the turbinate which has become enlarged due to various factors. The enlargement of the turbinates can result in nasal blockage and make it difficult for the affected individual to breathe through the nose. While giving oral steroids is an option for treating an enlarged nasal turbinate, such a treatment cannot be given long term because of the side effect profile of steroids. Thus Nasal Reduction Surgery becomes the most viable option for an individual to treat Turbinate Hypertrophy.

Coming to how a Turbinate Reduction Surgery is done, there are many ways of doing such as cauterization, coblation, radiofrequency reduction, and partial resection of the turbinate. Complete resection of the turbinates is never encouraged as this may interfere with the function of the turbinate and the air that goes to the lungs with breathing may not be pure which may cause problems with lung function.

Thus it is important to opt for a Turbinate Reduction Surgery to shrink the size of the turbinate so that the problem of blocked nose is eradicated and the function of the turbinates is also not hampered. Once shrinkage of the turbinates is done, over time recurrence of enlargement of the turbinates may occur and the individual may require repeat procedure but such instances are trivial and should not stop an individual from going for a Turbinate Reduction Surgery.

Radiofrequency ablation is the most preferred way to reduce the size of the turbinates. This procedure uses sound waves to heat up a portion of the enlarged turbinates. Once this is done, scar tissues are formed over the turbinates reducing the overall size of the turbinates thus clearing the nasal airway for normal breathing. Hence, it is recommended to opt for Turbinate Reduction Surgery for Hypertrophic Nasal Turbinates.


  1. Medical News Today. (2017). Everything You Need to Know About Turbinate Hypertrophy. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320310
  2. Cleveland Clinic. (2021). Nasal Turbinate Surgery. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/17802-nasal-turbinate-surgery
  3. Medscape. (2021). Inferior Turbinate Hypertrophy. https://emedicine.medscape.com/article/874771-overview

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:September 5, 2023

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