Nasal Turbinate Reduction

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The nasal turbinates (TER bin ates) are 3 folds of tissue that line each side of the nose. When we breathe, they clean and moisten the air that passes over them. The turbinates are known as inferior, middle, and superior. They may become enlarged because of allergies, cigarette smoke, chronic infections, or irritation of the nose. Enlargement of turbinates can cause problems breathing through the nose.

The inferior turbinates are the most likely to swell and block air flow through the nose. This can cause snoring, restless sleep, and nosebleeds. Making the inferior turbinates smaller will allow your child to breathe more easily through his or her nose.

Food and Drink

It is very important to follow all the instructions given to you by the hospital about feeding your child the day before surgery.


Nasal Turbinate Reduction is a procedure that is done through the nose. Your child will not have any cuts or incisions. Your child’s doctor will place a camera into the nose to see the turbinates. The doctor will then shrink the turbinates with a special instrument. Sometimes this procedure is done along with other procedures to improve breathing through the nose. Your child will be asleep during the entire procedure.

Medicines after Surgery

  • Your child’s doctor may prescribe a nasal steroid spray (such as Flonase®) for your child to use after surgery. Please give this medicine exactly as the doctor says.
  • You may use over-the-counter saline solution to help with nasal crusting and dryness. Please use as your child’s doctor says.
  • Your child’s doctor may suggest for you to give over-the-counter Afrin for bleeding from the nose. Please do not use Afrin for more than 3 days as this may make symptoms worse.

Care after Surgery

Your child’s doctor may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers, such as Tylenol® (acetaminophen) or Motrin® (ibuprofen) for mild pain relief. Please give this medicine only if directed by your child’s doctor.

Increased nasal congestion for the first 3 to 4 weeks after surgery is a normal part of healing. Your child may have a small amount of blood-tinged drainage from the nose. This is normal. If it becomes worrisome, please call your doctor.

Do not allow your child to blow his or her nose for 2 weeks after surgery. Please encourage your child to sneeze with the mouth open.


Most children can return to school within 3 days after surgery. It is important to avoid sports, gym and strenuous activities for 1 week after surgery.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your child’s doctor and the ENT nurse at 614-722-6547 if either of these things happens:

  • If your child has heavy bleeding from the nose that does not stop after pressure is applied to the nose for 10 minutes.
  • If your child has a fever above 101 degrees F that does not go down with Tylenol or Motrin as prescribed.

When to Seek Immediate Medical Attetion (call 911)

If your child has any of these symptoms, get medical help right away:

  • Pauses in breathing
  • Color change of skin (lips, face, hands or feet)
  • Very tired or lethargic
  • Severe bleeding


Your child will be scheduled for a follow-up appointment about 3 to 6 weeks after surgery.
If you have any questions or concerns, please call the ENT nurse at 614-722-6547.

Nasal Turbinate Reduction (PDF)

HH-I-371 10/14, Revised 07/19 | Copyright 2014, Nationwide Children’s Hospital