Sinus Surgery

If you don’t see answers to your questions here, be sure to write them down and ask your doctor.

When is sinus surgery necessary?

Most patients with chronic sinus infections don’t need surgery. Medical treatment and lifestyle changes usually work or keep symptoms under control. But if the changes don’t work, surgery may be the best alternative.

Having surgery is a big decision. Many things have to be considered first. For example: How severe are your symptoms? What does a CT scan show? How is your general health?

You and your doctor will decide if sinus surgery is the best choice for you. If you’re an older adult, or if you have a child that may need sinus surgery, special considerations need to be taken. It’s important to work with your doctor to get the treatment that’s best for you or your family member.

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What happens during sinus surgery?

Today, Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) is one of the most common surgical methods to treat chronic sinus infections. In a FESS procedure, the surgeon uses a magnifying endoscope to see and remove affected tissue and bone.

Before FESS, surgeons cut directly into the outside of the face to find the problem and remove it, increasing infection risk and recovery time. FESS is a more precise, less invasive way to open the sinuses and help restore you to better health.

The three sinus procedures discussed here (as well as others) may be performed using FESS. Which one your ENT doctor uses depends on what’s causing your problem. In general, the goal of sinus surgery is to flush out infected material, open up blocked passages, and keep enough healthy tissue so that your nose and sinuses can function normally.

Once the procedure is finished, temporary nasal packing will be placed in your nose to support the newly opened sinus passages and to absorb excess fluid while your tissues heal. If your doctor uses traditional nasal packing, it will have to be removed by your doctor after surgery.

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How long is recovery time?

Your recovery time depends on your overall health and which sinus surgery you have (ethmoidectomy, maxillary antrostomy, or powered septoplasty with turbinoplasty). Usually, you should plan to be away from work or school for at least several days after your surgery. Your doctor will give you specific instructions on how best to care for yourself to help speed recovery.

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How much pain is there with this surgery?

Every patient tolerates pain differently. Most patients manage sinus surgery pain with oral pain pills. Your doctor can tell you what to expect, based on the type of surgery you have. Facial swelling or bruising is rare, but the inside of your nose will be swollen and sore for a while. This may make breathing through your nose difficult for about two weeks.

It can be painful when your doctor removes the nasal packing from your nose at a follow-up appointment after surgery. This is because tissue and fluid inside your nose can stick to traditional packing material as the nose heals. Medtronic offers dissolvable nasal packing that may help the inside of your nose heal faster1 and is gradually resorbed by the body, so you don’t have to endure the painful removal of traditional nasal packing.

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Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.