The turbinates are 3 paired sets of structures that line the inside wall of the nose. They filter, moisten, and heat air as it enters the nose. Turbinates are made of small bones that are surrounded by soft tissue.

Outfracture is a procedure to break and shift these bones.

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Reasons for Procedure

Turbinates can become enlarged. This can make it difficult to breathe through your nose. This surgery shifts the turbinates to open the airway. This may help to:

  • Relieve blockage in the nasal passages
  • Improve breathing through the nose by increasing air flow and moisture
  • Reduce postnasal drip and excess drainage

Possible Complications

Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:

  • Bleeding
  • Infection
  • Persistent nasal blockage or sinus problems
  • Change in your breathing
  • Numbness in your teeth or nose
  • Perforated septum
  • Altered smell, taste, or vision
  • Repeat procedures
  • Rare, but serious complications include toxic shock syndrome and meningitis

What to Expect

Prior to Procedure

Your doctor will use results from previous tests. You may be asked to have a physical exam.

Before your procedure:

  • Avoid eating or drinking after midnight the night before.
  • Talk to your doctor if you take any medicine, herbs, or supplements. You may need to stop taking some medicine up to one week before the procedure.

Smoking can increase the risk of complications. It can increase scarring and slow healing. Your doctor may ask you stop smoking up to a month.


Depending on the extent of the surgery, you may have:

Description of the Procedure

A thin tube with a camera will be passed into your nose. It will allow the doctor to see inside the nose. Small tools will break the small bones. They will be pushed up to the side wall, away from the passageway.

Soft tissue may also be thinned-out around the area. Bleeding can be stopped using special tools, stitches, or packing.

How Long Will It Take?

1-2 hours

Will It Hurt?

Anesthesia will block pain during the procedure. You will have pain after the procedure for the first few days. Medicine will help to manage pain.

Post-procedure Care

At the Care Center

The care team will watch for complications while you wake. Recovery may also include:

  • Pain medicine
  • Decongestant nasal sprays
  • Antibiotics to prevent infection
  • Medicine to prevent blood clots

At Home

You will need to take steps to avoid increasing pressure in your head. You may need to avoid heavy lifting or straining for a few days. Home care will also help the area heal. This may include nasal spray.

Call Your Doctor

It is important to monitor your recovery. Alert your doctor to any problems. If any of the following occur, call your doctor:

  • Signs of infection, including fever and chills
  • Increase in bleeding or discharge
  • Vision problems
  • Severe headache or neck stiffness
  • Persistent nosebleeds

If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.


American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


Canadian Society of Otolaryngology

The College of Family Physicians of Canada


Brunworth J, Holmes J, Sindwani R. Inferior turbinate hypertrophy: Review and graduated approach to surgical management. Am J Rhinol Allergy. 2013;27(5):411-415.

Reduction of turbinates. ENT Consent Patient Resource website. Available at: Accessed January 11, 2019.

Septoplasty & turbinate surgery. American Rhinologic Society website. Available at: Accessed January 11, 2019.

Turbinate reduction. Johns Hopkins Sinus Center website. Available at: Accessed January 11, 2019.

Last reviewed November 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board James Cornell, MD  Last Updated: 1/8/2019