Nasal Turbinate Cautery


Nasal Turbinate Cautery is a safe and rapid method for the reduction in bulk of the air-conditioning tissue in the nose. Bulky turbinates are a very common problem. We all have experienced this at least temporarily with a head cold.


Dr Wallace recommends Nasal Turbinate Cautery for some or all of the following reasons:

  • Nasal airway blockage due to Allergic Rhinitis (hay fever-type inflammation)
  • Blockage to breathing causing snoring, mouth breathing and possibly sleep apnoea
  • Chronic sinus infections with nasal or post-nasal discharge
  • Recurrent ear infections and/or Eustachian tube blockage


This surgery is associated with a very low risk of complication. The specific risks of turbinate cautery of which you should be aware are:

  • Bleeding from the nose or epistaxis is normal for several days after surgery. Severe bleeding is extremely rare and could be a sign of an underlying bleeding disorder
  • Infection is rare but almost all patients feel as though they have contracted a head cold. True infections is associated with a throbbing sinus headache
  • Excessive turbinate reduction will lead to a dry blocked and very uncomfortable nose.
    This complication is avoided by conservative surgery.


A General Anaesthetic is best for the patient who will be asleep for approximately 15 minutes.


Dr Wallace performs the turbinate cautery via each nostril. There are no incisions. A linear electrocautery burn is made along each inferior turbinate.


There should be no significant pain but there will be quite severe nasal blockage for 7 -10 days. You can use decongestant nose sprays (Drixine or Otrivine) or tablets (Sudafed or Demazine) but they will only be partly successful.

You should avoid any vigorous physical activity for 2 weeks. Swimming after this surgery is fine as long as you do not spend too long in the sun getting overheated as this could cause a bad nose bleed.

Dr Wallace will arrange a first post-op office visit approximately 2 weeks after surgery. Your second post-op visit will be about 6 weeks after surgery when the turbinate should be completely healed and the maximum airway improvement should be apparent but it can take many months to get used to the new patterns of nasal airflow. Most patients have only the first week off work.

The cost of the 2 post-op visits is included as part of the cost of the operation.


The operation of Turbinate Cautery is often combined with other procedures. The most common combination is with Septoplasty or with Sinus Surgery,


The vast majority of patients will be very pleased that they put themselves through the minor discomfort of turbinate cautery. Within 4 – 6 weeks, breathing will be easier and sleep should be more refreshing. However, you must remember that the nose is there to slow down the inflow of air for air-conditioning and we do most of our breathing through one nostril at a time. This is the nasal cycle that changes over approximately every 3 hours. It is more prominent than usual in the first year after surgery.