Turbinate Hypertrophy in Tampa and St. Petersburg, FL
Chronic allergies, sinus pressure, breathing problems and pain may be signs of turbinate hypertrophy. The medical condition is caused by the enlargement of the turbinate causing airway blockage. Dr. Dean Davis of Davis Facial Plastic Surgery is a dual-board certified facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon and otolaryngologist who specializes in treating turbinate hypertrophy in men and women living in Tampa, St. Petersburg, and surrounding communities in Florida.
A common procedure, turbinate reduction surgery is performed during reconstructive nose surgery by otolaryngologists, or ENT surgeons, and facial plastic surgeons. You need to know what the inferior turbinate is and the goals of the procedure to really understand turbinate reduction surgery.
What Is the Inferior Turbinate?
The inferior turbinate is an almost tubular, elongated structure inside the nose that humidifies air as it passes through the nose. It also filters and heats the air that passes through the nasal passage. Due to these functions, the inferior turbinate is considered an essential anatomical aspect of optimum nasal breathing. Without the inferior turbinate, the air that you breathe in through your nose would not be filtered, heated or humidified, thus creating a less-than-ideal physiology for breathing.
About the size of an index finger, the inferior turbinate is located against the side of the nasal passage. It runs parallel to the septum, which is the wall that separates the right and left passages. Everyone has two inferior turbinates, each on the right and left sides of their noses, but they are not always the same size. The nose actually has three sets of turbinates: the superior, middle and inferior. Among these pairs, however, the inferior turbinates are more involved in routine breathing through the nose and are evaluated more often with the nasal septum.
The composition of the inferior turbinate is an inner floating white bone wrapped with a mucosal pink lining. When the inferior turbinate is examined, both the lining and bone should be assessed because each of these parts contribute to the overall function, size and shape of the structure.
What Is Turbinate Hypertrophy?
Turbinate hypertrophy refers to the enlargement of the inferior turbinate. Numerous medical conditions can make this happen, such as vasomotor rhinitis, an abnormal nerve innervation that causes the inferior turbinate to increase in size. Severe nasal allergies and a deviated septum can also cause turbinate hypertrophy. If the septum is deviated to the right side, for example, the left inferior turbinate will have more air passing through it because the right side is obstructed. This will cause the left inferior turbinate to swell because turbinates naturally enlarge in response to airflow.
What does it mean when the inferior turbinate increases in size? It usually means that you are suffering from some type of nasal congestion or breathing difficulty. This can happen on just one side of the nose, or it could alter between both sides. In some cases, turbinate hypertrophy occurs on both sides of the nose at the same time. When this happens, you will notice some degree of obstruction in your nose because the airway becomes tighter or closed off. If a deviated septum is causing some level of obstruction, turbinate hypertrophy will only make the problem worse.
Turbinate Reduction Surgery
A majority of the time, turbine hypertrophy is treated successfully using topical medications, such as nasal antihistamine and steroid sprays. Other times, oral antihistamines are used to control the symptoms that patients experience from the inferior turbinate swelling. However, a substantial amount of people simply do not respond well to the medications used for reducing the activity and size of the inferior turbinates. This issue is often referred to refractory symptoms, and patients who have this may need surgery to help them achieve long-term relief.
Some surgeons refer to turbinate reduction surgery as a turbinoplasty, but the goal of the procedure is the same: to reduce the enlargement of the inferior turbinate. There are numerous surgical procedures designed to treat turbinate hypertrophy, and all of them are carried out through the nostrils. No external incisions are needed, so there are also no external scars as a result. Some of the procedures involve the use of cautery-like devices that heat the inside of the inferior turbinate to shrink it down to the proper size. Other surgeries, such as Coblation, involve radiofrequency ablation technology, which also decreases the turbinate’s size from the inside out. In some patients, these methods are adequate enough to reduce the enlargement and provide dramatic breathing improvements.
Since these procedures mainly target the pink, mucosal part of the inferior turbinate and do not target the bone, they do not provide adequate results for some patients. The white bone also has to be addressed in these cases. The means that the surgeon may need to create a small incision along the front of the inferior turbinate mucosal lining to expose the bone. This gives the surgeon access to partially move out and/or resect the bone to the side to improve nasal breathing. With this method of inferior turbinate reduction surgery, the mucosal lining will begin to shrink over time as the tissues progressively scar inward.
A combination of these procedures may be appropriate for some patients to gain optimum surgical results.
What procedure is the best for inferior turbinate reduction surgery? The answer to this question is not known without a consultation. Most of the time, inferior turbinate hypertrophy patients will see notable progress in nasal congestion in the hands of a well-trained facial plastic and reconstructive surgeon. The best way to determine which procedure will benefit you the most is to consult with Dr. Davis to discuss your specific problem with you prior to turbinate reduction surgery.
Does Insurance Cover Turbinate Surgery?
Yes. Health insurance typically covers turbinate reduction surgery when a physician diagnoses a patient with inferior turbinate hypertrophy or enlargement, and the patient has not had an ideal response to topical medications. For numerous patients, the surgery is combined with septal reconstruction, also called a septoplasty, for a deviated septum. However, it is recommended that you contact your insurance provider to confirm that your coverage extends to these individual procedures before you schedule one. Dr. Davis accepts payment via CareCredit® financing, cash, check, or credit card, as well.
Turbinate hypertrophy causes a range of symptoms that affect your quality of life. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Davis, and find out how turbinate surgery can help you!