Turbinate Reduction: Breathe Easy

Everyone deserves to breathe easily. If you’re suffering from the symptoms of enlarged turbinates, Upper East Side ENT doctor Dr. Shari Reitzen offers many options for turbinate reduction to help get you breathing functionally once again. 

Symptoms of Enlarged Turbinates

  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Snoring
  • Nasal drainage
  • Nosebleeds
  • Trouble breathing
  • Trouble sleeping due to congestion

What is the Function of Turbinates?

Turbinates are essentially our body’s humidifier: they help to purify the air that flows through the nose, adding warm, moist heat to the air that enters with every breath. These turbinates are shelf-like structures on the inside of the nose that contain bone and are covered by a lining of mucous. They are very susceptible to allergies and irritation, which can cause them to become swollen (enlarged), leading to a wide range of issues. 

Causes of Enlarged Turbinates

  • Allergies
  • A persistent cold
  • Sinus infections 
  • Congenital conditions
  • Some medications
  • Allergic rhinitis
  • Non-allergic rhinitis
  • Chronic rhinosinusitis
  • Lying down
  • Aging
  • Certain foods
  • Hormones 
  • Irritants in the environment (e.g., cigarette smoke)
  • Overuse of decongestant nasal sprays 

Treatment Options for Enlarged Turbinates

Medical Treatment

Often, the first course of action to address enlarged turbinates is to reduce swelling with medication. This can include decongestants, antihistamines, and nasal steroids. The ideal medication for you will be selected after Dr. Reitzen has heard your symptoms and assessed your enlarged turbinates. 


Cautery uses heat to reduce the mucosal lining back to its normal size. In this procedure, a heated probe is positioned within the nose, where the heat causes some of the turbinate blood vessels to clot and close off. These changes in blood flow reduce the tissue, thereby returning the enlarged turbinates to their correct size.

Balloon Turbinoplasty

Learn more about the Acclarent RELIEVATRACT Procedural Animation

Cutaway view of sinuses

“Brilliant. On time. Fast. Listened. Explained everything. Solved the problem. Can’t ask for much more than that.” 

Chris S.


Your recovery length after turbinate reduction will depend on the type of procedure you underwent and if general anesthesia was used. During your consultation with Dr. Reitzen, she can let you know more details regarding your recovery once the technique for turbinate reduction is determined. 

During recovery, avoid heavy lifting or strenuous activity for 1-2 weeks. You can expect some crusting or draining in the following few days after surgery; however, if you experience excessive bleeding, please contact us. You may also have some congestion that lasts about one week. 

Once you have healed from your procedure, you will find that you can breathe much more easily. 


Does insurance cover surgery for enlarged turbinates?

Can other procedures be performed at the same time as turbinate reduction?

Does insurance cover surgery for enlarged turbinates?

For the majority of enlarged turbinate cases in which medications are not having success, health insurance covers the cost of surgery. However, every insurance carrier is different, so you should contact your insurance company to double-check.

Can other procedures be performed at the same time as turbinate reduction?

Yes, other procedures can be performed at the same time as a turbinate reduction. Conditions such as a deviated septum, nasal polyps, enlarged adenoids, etc. are frequently addressed alongside enlarged turbinates. During your consultation with Dr. Reitzen, she will go over all your options for combined procedures.

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