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Nasal Surgery

Obstruction of nasal breathing is a common finding in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The cause of the obstruction may be due to turbinate tissue overgrowth, deviated septum or collapse/narrowing of the nasal valve. Nasal surgery is highly successful in improving nasal breathing by reducing the size of the turbinate, correcting the deviated septum or enlarging the nasal valve. However, in patents with moderate to severe obstructive sleep apnea, nasal surgery alone usually does not achieve significant improvement. Nasal surgery is performed at times to improve a patient’s tolerance toward continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP).

The procedure is performed in a hospital ambulatory surgical center.

The procedure takes approximately one hour and is performed under general anesthesia.  Although nasal packing is often used by many surgeons, it is usually unnecessary.*  Nasal surgery is generally associated with a mild amount of discomfort, which can be easily managed with medications for one to two days. Potential complications from nasal surgery include significant bleeding and infection, both of which are rare.

Nasal surgery is usually an out-patient procedure. Overnight hospitalization is recommended for patients with moderate or severe obstructive. Patients will experience nasal stuffiness for a few days and can usually return to work in three days.

*Nasal packing involves placing sponges in the nose for several days after the operation.

Before Surgery
Before Surgery
After Surgery
After Surgery


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Li KK, Powell NB, Riley RW, Troell RJ, Guilleminault C.  Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction for Treatment of Turbinate Hypertrophy - A Pilot Study.  Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery; 119(6) 569-573, 1998.

Troell RJ, Powell NB, Riley RW, Li KK.  Evaluation of a New Procedure for Nasal Alar Rim and Valve Collapse: Nasal Alar Rim Reconstruction.  Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery; 122(2):204-211, 2000.

Guilleminault C, Kim Y, Palombini L, Li K, Powell N.  Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome and its Treatment.  Sleep; 23:S197-S200, 2000.
Powell NB, Zonato A, Weaver EM, Li K, Troell R, Riley RW, Guilleminault C.  Radiofrequency Treatment of Turbinate Hypertrophy in Subjects Using CPAP.  A Randomized Double Blind Placebo-Controlled Clinical Pilot Trial.  Laryngoscope; 111:1783-1790, 2001.

Li KK, Powell NB, Riley RW, Troell, RJ.  Radiofrequency Volumetric Reduction for Turbinate Hypertrophy.   Operative Technique of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery; 11(1);24-25, 2000.

Li KK, Powell N, Riley R. Radiofrequency Thermal Ablation Therapy for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.  Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Clinics of North America; 14:359-363, 2002. 



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