Nasal Surgery: Turbinate Surgery

Nasal Surgery: Turbinate Surgery

You’re scheduled to have nasal surgery. The type of nasal surgery you’re having is called turbinate surgery. Read on to learn more about what to expect during this surgery

Nose with inside structures visible. Turbinates and nasal lining are swollen. Bone is removed from turbinates.
During surgery, bone or mucous membrane may be removed from enlarged turbinates.

Nose with inside structures visible. Nasal lining is normal.
After surgery, there is more breathing space. Enough turbinate bone and mucous membrane remain for the turbinates to do their job.

What Are the Turbinates?

The turbinates are located on each side inside the nose. They are curved bony ridges that are lined with mucous membrane. Mucous membrane is thin tissue that lines the insides of the nose, sinuses, and throat. It makes sticky mucus that helps clean the air in the nose of dust and other small particles. The turbinates and mucous membrane warm and moisten the air you breathe through your nose.

What to Expect During Turbinate Surgery

This surgery repairs a blockage caused by enlarged turbinates. Incisions are made inside the nose under the lower turbinate. A laser may be used to do this. Excess bone may be removed to reduce turbinate size. Sometimes, excess mucous membrane is also removed.

Risks and Possible Complications

As with any surgery, nasal surgery has some risks. These include a slight risk of bleeding and infection. Your doctor will discuss any other risks and complications with you.

After Turbinate Surgery

After turbinate surgery, you’ll be taken to a recovery area or to your hospital room. Your experience may be as follows:

  • You’ll have gauze bandages or other material (packing) or a plastic splint inside your nose. This reduces bleeding and promotes healing. You may also have dressings (bandages) on the outside of your nose.

  • It’s normal to have some mucus and blood drain from your nose. Until packing is removed, you may have to breathe through your mouth.

  • You may have some swelling or bruising around the eyelids.

  • Expect some throat dryness and irritation.

  • Pain medication will be prescribed as needed. Don’t take medication containing aspirin or ibuprofen. These can increase bleeding.


You’ll need to follow up with your doctor within a week after your surgery. Here is what to expect:

  • Any packing, splint, or dressings will probably be removed. You may feel slight discomfort and bleed a little when this is done.

  • After the splint or packing is removed, you’ll most likely breathe better than you did before surgery.

  • You may have minor numbness, pain, swelling, and a little stiffness under the tip of the nose.

  • In a few days, the inside of your nose may swell and briefly block your breathing. Or, a scab or crust may block breathing for a short time. Leave the scab alone. Your doctor can remove it.