Since it was first performed many years ago, sinus surgery has evolved considerably to become more minimally invasive. The techniques that were formerly used were more invasive, left larger scars, caused greater discomfort and inconvenience, and involved longer recovery times. Today, in general, there are no more incisions to the face, which means no scars, less pain, and a shorter recovery time. Many patients go back home the same day they undergo treatment.
What is sinus surgery?
When you have severe sinusitis, nasal polyps, or several other conditions that impede your day-to-day quality of life, your doctor may recommend sinus surgery. In sinus surgery, the physician’s goal is to open sinuses that are blocked by inflammation in order to improve sinus drainage and airflow.
As mentioned above, the surgery previously involved incisions on the face. Now, the surgery is generally performed using a nasal endoscope, a slim instrument with a tiny camera, inserted through the nostril. With this device, the surgeon can see the surgery site on a television screen, which means the surgeon doesn’t need to look directly at the patient’s sinuses—and the patient doesn’t need to undergo external incisions. The surgeon then removes inflamed tissue, sinus tissue growths known as polyps, and other obstructions that could block the airway.
Surgery may be performed under general anesthesia, meaning that the patient is asleep and unaware, or local anesthesia, meaning the surgery site is numb but the patient remains conscious.
How long do preparations take?
Before you have surgery, your doctor will go over the necessary preparations with you. You might need to stay off certain medications, like aspirin, that can cause people to bleed more than usual.
How long will I be in surgery?
This can depend on several factors, including the chosen surgery technique, the specific condition being treated, the severity of the patient’s sinus condition, and others. In general, surgery takes a few hours—enough time for the surgical team to place the patient under anesthesia, introduce the nasal endoscope and other necessary tools into the sinuses, remove the tissue that needs to be removed, and prepare the patient for recovery.
How long will recovery last?
Once the surgeon has completed the procedure and the patient has woken up (assuming general anesthesia was used), the patient is placed under observation for a few hours. After that time, if no abnormal bleeding or other complications occur, the patient can be discharged. Otherwise, an overnight stay may be required.
Following discharge, it’s normal to have some bloody discharge and trouble breathing through the nose for up to a couple of weeks. Before you undergo surgery, your doctor will make sure you are informed about what to expect, and you will be given a follow-up appointment so that you can be sure your recovery is coming along smoothly.