Rhinoplasty means “reshaping of the nose,” and it’s a procedure during which plastic surgeons adjust the internal and external structures to give a patient a more aesthetically pleasing nose. However, surgeons can also improve the function and overall health of your nose by fixing those same structures.
There are several ways that this can be accomplished, one of which is known as a turbinate reduction or turbinoplasty.
Turbinates and the Anatomy of the Nose
Your nose is basically a series of fragile structures comprised of bone and cartilage, which can be augmented, removed, or restructured through rhinoplasty. One of these structures is known as the turbinates. Each side of your nose has three turbinates, which look like shelves stacked on top of one another.
The superior turbinate is the one on top, the inferior turbinate is on the bottom, and the middle turbinate is, well, in the middle. The turbinates act as a filter and humidifier for the air you breathe by trapping contaminates in their mucosal lining and warming the air before it makes its way into your lungs.
Issues Turbinates Can Cause
Turbinates are bone covered in soft tissue, either of which can become swollen given the right stimulus. Allergies are a common one. When the turbinates become swollen, they can block your nasal passage and make it harder for you to breathe. Usually the inferior turbinate poses the biggest problem with this because it is the largest of the three, but any or all of them could cause your nasal passage to block.
Sometimes people can have naturally large turbinates, known as hypertrophic turbinates. They usually get these through their genes and have a long history of breathing problems.
The Ways a Rhinoplasty Can Help and How
Rhinoplasty can be used to make the turbinates smaller by doing a turbinoplasty, or turbinate reduction. This can be performed as part of a total reshaping of the nose or on its own. This is great news for those of you who want to improve your breathing as well as the appearance of your nose. Turbinate reductions can also be performed internally for patients who don’t want or need an aesthetic rhinoplasty.
This procedure is usually only needed for the inferior turbinate because it’s the largest and most likely to cause breathing problems, but all three turbinates can be operated on. The surgeon uses general anesthesia to put the patient to sleep before using an endoscope to check out the inside of your nose. Next, they make a small incision inside your nose along the mucosal lining of the turbinate. A small amount of the turbinate is then excised before the incision is closed.
Turbinate Reduction Recovery
If you have this procedure on its own, recovery is minimal. It can be done completely inside your nose, so there are no external incisions and significantly less swelling or bruising. Your nose will be painful and will probably bleed for a couple of days. You might also notice some discharge from your nose for the first week or so. The recovery does still require some downtime, so schedule yourself at least a week off from work and normal activities. The swelling inside your nose should be gone after two or three weeks and your breathing will become normal again.
Choosing a Doctor
While it sounds simple enough to remove a small amount of tissue, a turbinate reduction does require some finesse and skill. The turbinates are in your nose to help keep you healthy by removing foreign contaminants and prep the air for your lungs by warming and humidifying it. As such, they do still need to stick out into your nose after surgery. A surgeon needs to have the knowledge, training, and experience to remove an appropriate amount of tissue so you can breathe without impairing the overall function of your nose.
Schedule a Rhinoplasty Consultation to Fix Your Deviated Septum
Dr. Shervin Naderi, MD, FACS of the Naderi Center Rhinoplasty & Cosmetic Surgery is a facial plastic surgeon located in the Washington, D.C. metro area. Dr. Naderi has dedicated himself and his practice to the specialty of rhinoplasty, treating the area of the nose both cosmetically and functionally. Because of his dedication to each patient, he always seeks the best approach to improve both form and function. His goal is a nose that works with and complements the face so that it looks both attractive and natural. His skills include not just basic rhinoplasty and septoplasty, but also revision rhinoplasty and reconstruction. The results of just some of his work can be seen here in the Naderi Center Photo Gallery.
Dr. Naderi is certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology. He is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons, the American Academy of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and the American Academy of Otolaryngology — Head and Neck Surgery. If you’re considering a cosmetic procedure, and want to consult with an experienced Washington, D.C.-area facial plastic surgeon, call the Naderi Center Rhinoplasty & Cosmetic Surgery. For the convenience of his patients, he has two office locations: one in Herndon, VA (703 481-0002) and the other in Chevy Chase, MD (301-222-2020). Office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. The doctor can also be reached by email.