This article is on Turbinoplasty, a common surgical procedure in Otolaryngology. It is intended to help inform patients, relatives of patients and health professionals. The information in the grey boxes is more technical and intended more for Health professionals that are reading this article.


What is a Turbinoplasty?

Turbinoplasty is the surgical procedure to reduce the size of turbinates within the nose. Typically a turbinoplasty means surgery on the inferior turbinates.

The surgery is completed under a General Anaesthetic (an Anaesthetist will explain to you how this process will happen).


What are the indications for a Turbinoplasty?

Surgery is usually indicated for patients who have a blocked nose due to enlarged inferior turbinates.


What happens before surgery?

You cannot eat or drink anything from 6 hours before your surgery. The anaesthetist will see you either in clinic days before the operation or on the day of surgery.

You may be asked to have routine blood tests taken prior to your surgery. If you take regular medication, some of them, in particular blood thinners may need to be stopped prior to your surgery.


How is it diagnosed?

Diagnosis is made through a combination of symptoms, examination of the nose and scans of the sinuses. In some, but not all CRS cases, “polyps” are seen inside the nose.

Diagnostic Criteria:
– 2 or more of the 4 main symptoms for >12 weeks AND
– Evidence of mucosal inflammation
– Direct visualisation (Nasal enodoscopy)


How long is the surgery?

The operation will take around one hour to complete but could be longer if it is completed with additional procedures (Septoplasty or Endoscopic Sinus Surgery). The entire process which includes pre-operation checks, anaesthesia and recovery can take several hours.


What are the risks?

Your ENT Surgeon will explain all the risks of surgery and answer any questions during your consultation. Small amounts of bleeding is expected in the first few days following surgery.

1. Haemorrhage
2. Infection
3. Atrophic rhinitis
4. Adhesions


Are there alternative options?

Recommendations will depend on the indication for surgery. Your Surgeon will discuss all alternative options with you. The final decision to proceed with surgery is made by the patient.

Usually medical therapy which includes saline rinses and nasal sprays are attempted first before considering surgery. The option of not having surgery is always available.


How long is the recovery?

Patients commonly stay one night in hospital after the procedure. However, it can be completed as a day case surgery also.

It is important to avoid physical contact with the nose, blowing your nose or any heavy physical activity in the first 2 weeks after surgery. You will be given a prescription for routine pain relief and a saline rinse bottle.

Due to the swelling from the surgery, the nose may feel more blocked immediately after surgery. This should improve after a few days. On average, expect 1-2 weeks off school or work after surgery.


Further reading:

1. Healthline – Turbinate Reduction: What to Expect
2. Johns Hopkins – Turbinate Reduction


1. Ye T, Zhou B. Update on surgical management of adult inferior turbinate hypertrophy. 2015. Current Opinion in Otolaryngology & Head and Neck Surgery. 23(1):29-33


Author + Affiliation:
Dr Johnny Wu, Department of Otolaryngology, Waikato Hospital.
Reviewed by Dr , Otolaryngologist, Waikato Hospital

Date of Publication +/- Review:
Date of Publication:
Date of Review:

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