Nasal Turbinate Hypertrophy
Think of the inferior turbinate as a sausage filled with blood vessels. They naturally change in size. The size of the turbinates is unconsciously controlled so that they swell on one side at a time and shrink on the other side. Some people are annoyed by the stuffiness which shifts from side to side several times a day. Others notice that their nose gets stopped up when they lie down. That occurs because lying down allows more blood to collect in the turbinates.
Unfortunately, the size of the inferior turbinates can be too much to allow normal airflow through the nose. People cannot breathe properly when exercising, sleeping or even at rest. This is particularly noticeable for people who also have a deviated septum.
The most common cause of turbinate hypertrophy is the inflammation associated with seasonal and environmental allergies (link). Other causes include chronic sinusitis, second-hand smoke and chemical irritants.
How is Turbinate Hypertrophy Treated?
If medical treatment has failed, an effective treatment can significantly decrease the size of the inferior turbinates. The most common technique requires only a small incision inside the nose and a tool which removes some of the blood vessels, shrinks the turbinates, but leaves the mucosal surface intact. An alternative procedure is cauterization (coblation) of the inferior turbinates.
Usually the surgery is performed in an outpatient surgery center. The surgery is often performed under general anesthesia or with the patient made sleepy and forgetful by some IV medication. However, more and more often Dr. Sigari has been able to offer this procedure as an in-office treatment under local anesthesia.
In conjunction with the Pillar procedure this can be an effective treatment for primary snoring.