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Is sinus surgery necessary?

When your sinus infection doesn’t respond to treatment with antibiotics and symptoms are not receding, your doctor might indicate surgery as the best option to correct your sinus condition.

When medical treatment is no longer a solution

For some patients with chronic sinus infections, medical treatment at home may work effectively, keeping symptoms under control. But if medication and lifestyle changes do not help, sinus surgery may be the best alternative.

Several factors need to be considered before making the decision: How severe are the symptoms? What is the result of your CT scan? How is your general health condition? Did you try any medical treatment before?

The low-risk procedure involves increasing the openings between the sinuses and the inside of the nose to allow air intake and drainage evacuation. It corrects structural issues with the nasal passages and may require removing polyps, small bone sections, or other blocking tissue.

Sinus surgery might be necessary in case of:

  • chronic sinusitis that isn't responding to medical treatment
  • severe sinus polyps
  • abnormalities within the structure of the nose or sinus that requires repair - deviated septum, for example
  • an infection that has spread to the bone
  • cancer within the sinus cavity

Following sinus surgery, patients experience a swift improvement in their symptoms: fewer infections, effortless breathing, and an acute sense of smell.

Pain associated with sinus surgery

The procedure itself is not considered painful, but not everyone tolerates pain the same way. You might experience some pain at the follow-up appointment when the doctor removes the nasal packing from your nose; this happens because the tissue and fluid inside your nose might stick to the packing material, making it difficult to remove.

The pain you experience after the procedure may also depend on which sinus surgery was performed. There are two main types of sinus surgeries:

  • balloon sinus surgery - the least invasive of sinus surgeries
  • endoscopic sinus surgery - with a more extended recovery period

Usually, patients should plan to be away from work or school for several days after the surgery. The doctor will give specific instructions for a speedy recovery and prescribe postoperative pain medication.

Expectations following sinus surgery

If you’re doing well, you’ll be discharged to go home. You won't be able to drive right after sinus surgery, so make sure you have someone to drive you home. Before leaving, you will be informed about the healing process involving your nose and sinuses and necessary follow-up appointments.

You will be under medication for a few days. You will need postoperative visits to clean your nose and sinuses of fluid and blood left behind after the surgery.

After sinus surgery, you can expect to experience:

  • bleeding - it is normal to have some bloody discharge for the first few days after sinus surgery
  • pain - you’ll experience some nasal and sinus pressure and pain for the first several days after surgery
  • fatigue - you can expect to feel tired for the first 5-7 days after surgery. It is recommended to take at least a few days off from work to recover
  • nasal congestion and discharge - you can expect to have nasal congestion and discharge for 2-3 weeks after your sinus surgery

Disclaimer: We do not assume responsibility for the use of the provided information or its interpretation. Our efforts are towards providing current and reliable information; however these should not be considered, or used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment.

Source: https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/Education/Medical-Library/