Published: Mar. 8, 2007
Updated: July 19, 2010
The procedures in sinus surgery have advanced significantly over the past 20 years. Today we use endoscopes that allow us to visualize the sinus areas, and directly address them in a safe and thorough manner. If you are having sinus surgery done, these telescopes will likely be used.
The procedure is usually performed under general anesthesia. Using the telescopes and a variety of instruments, we are able to open up the maxillary sinuses, which are the cheek sinuses.
We are also able to open up the ethmoid sinuses, which are honeycomb-shaped sinuses between the eyes. In some patients the frontal sinus, the sinus in the forehead, or the sphenoid sinus, which is the sinus farthest back, may need to be opened. These can also be addressed in most cases using the specialized telescopes and instruments.
To get adequate visualization, some patients may need their septum straightened out to provide adequate room for the sinus endoscopes and instruments. If you have nasal polyps, these are also removed during the course of the procedure.
At the completion of sinus surgery, there should be no cosmetic change to the external appearance of your nose. Additionally, bruising of the face is very uncommon.
If you have sinus surgery, you may have some packs that are placed within your nose to help control bleeding from the area, or to assure adequate healing. These packs are sometimes left in place overnight, and infrequently they need to be left in for approximately one week.
Patients who have had sinus surgery will have access to pain medicines, and will be placed on an appropriate antibiotic.
Sinus surgery is accomplished very safely with very small risk. If you have had multiple procedures, your surgeon may choose to use sinus tracking technology that allows the surgeon to combine recent computerized technological advances to help guide the surgery.
In general, after sinus surgery, discomfort is minimal to moderate, but most patients complain of a sense of nasal obstruction.
You can expect a fair amount of drainage from your nose, which may contain some old blood from the surgery.
You will be instructed to spray your nose with salt water every two hours while awake. Salt water can be purchased at the local pharmacy or made yourself by combining one-quarter teaspoon of salt with one-quarter teaspoon of baking soda in eight ounces of clean distilled water.
If you have packs placed within your nose that need to be removed later, it is a good idea on your first postoperative visit to bring a friend or family member, and to take a little bit of the pain medicine approximately 30 minutes before you come in.
Today’s packs are not like the old traditional nasal packs. Today we use soft sponges that are easier to remove and more comfortable.
After sinus surgery you will generally need to return to the doctor’s office every week to be assessed for healing. This may include having to clean the sinus passageways for you using nasal endoscopes. You will be asked to return until the sinuses are completely healed.
Again, an important step in healing is keeping the nasal cavity moist, so you will be asked to irrigate your nose with the salt water every two hours while awake until the doctor instructs you to stop.
You will be on antibiotics during the healing process, and it is not uncommon for a patient to have a sinus infection during the healing process. If so, the doctor may elect to place you on an additional course of antibiotics as needed.
Patients who have had nasal polyps removed, or have excess swelling within their nose, may be given a prescription for Prednisone, which is a potent steroid that can help decrease swelling within the nose. Whether this medication is given to you will be discussed with you directly at the time of your preoperative or post-operative evaluation.