Sinus surgery can be very helpful in opening up the airway so you can breathe properly. It can reduce symptoms like recurring infections with cough and hoarseness, and others. But sometimes, the benefits can fade after a while.
In fact, according to one study, just one year after endoscopic sinus surgery, 9% of patients were scheduled for a repeat procedure (this study involved 237 patients); 16% of the patients in the study said their symptoms had not changed, and 1% said they had gotten worse. Fewer than half said their symptoms had gone away entirely.
Over time, more of the patients in this study will probably have to go back into the operating room because their sinuses will have gradually closed back up. This is backed up by a different study, in which 23 out of 91 patients had revision surgery within four years because their symptoms had come back.
Here is why. In sinus surgery, the surgeon removes polyps and other swollen or inflamed tissue that blocks the sinus passages. This allows air to pass freely through the sinuses once the surgery site has healed. But over time, the diseased tissue can grow back. Within two to five years, some patients’ symptoms also come back, and some of them may require more surgery to get their sinuses back into good working order.
That’s the evidence shown by two studies in established medical journals. We can conclude that, as time goes by, it is more and more likely that symptoms will come back and a few patients will need revision. Still, in the four-year study, only about 25% of studied patients had symptoms bad enough to require surgery again. The odds vary depending on your individual condition, your sinus anatomy, how well you respond to nonsurgical follow-up treatment, and other factors.
New technological advancements are aimed at improving the outcomes of surgery and offer longer periods of lasting relief. Some ENT physicians offer PROPEL sinus stent with surgery. PROPEL is an implantable sinus stent coated with an anti-inflammatory medicine. During sinus surgery, the surgeon clears the diseased tissue and places PROPEL inside the sinuses. The spring-like design allows it to conform to the unique shape of the sinus, securely prop the sinuses open, and deliver medicine directly to the diseased tissue.
PROPEL sinus stent helps improve the results of sinus surgery by decreasing the chance of post-surgical scarring and inflammation and reducing the need for oral steroids. After about 30 to 45 days, it dissolves. PROPEL is clinically proven to maintain the outcomes of surgery. This means less likelihood for additional surgical interventions or the need for oral steroids.
So if the question is how long sinus surgery can last, the answer is: usually, at least a few years, but it depends. PROPEL can help maintain the outcome of surgery. Talk with your doctor if you are having chronic sinus symptoms. Your doctor and you may be able to figure out the underlying issue, determine whether surgery is appropriate, if PROPEL can help, and how likely it is that you’ll respond positively.
 Jakobsen J, Svendstrup F. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery in chronic sinusitis—a series of 237 consecutively operated patients.Acta Otolaryngol 2000; Suppl 543: 158–161.
 Schaitkin, et al. Endoscopic Sinus Surgery: 4-Year Follow-up on the First 100 Patients. Laryngoscope 103: October 1993: 1117–1120.
 Han JK, Marple BF, Smith TL et. al., Int. Forum Allergy Rhinol. 2012; 2:271-279