Sinus surgery is performed to improve the airflow of the nose and sinuses.
The sinuses are interconnected air filled cavities behind the forehead, cheekbones, nasal cavity and between the eyes. They are lined with soft moist tissue that humidifies and filters the air on the way to the lungs.
The lining of the sinuses produce mucus, which helps filter dust and particles from the air.
In order to function properly, sinuses need to be able to drain mucus.
When the sinuses not able to drain, they accumulate thick, tenacious mucus which may become infected. When the lining of the sinuses is chronically inflamed and/or infected, polyps may form and further block the nose and sinus outflow.
In many cases, sinus issues clear up on their own or with the help of medications such as nasal steroids, antibiotics, nasal sprays or oral medications. In other cases the problems may persist, and can greatly diminish quality of life.
Symptoms of sinus disease
- A persistent blocked nose is a common feature, often with a sensation of congestion
- Thick (sometimes yellow/green) post nasal drip
- Fluid dripping from front of the nose
- Facial pressure, headaches
- Reduced sense of smell
Key Points about Sinus Surgery:
Surgery is performed from inside the nose with no external cuts or changes in nasal appearance
Can be performed as Day Surgery
Patients can go home the same day in most circumstances
Patients tend to experience a feeling of congestion post-surgery, without severe pain
Improved nasal function, improved mucous drainage and better results from nasal medications
Indications for sinus surgery:
Sinus surgery becomes an option when all non-surgical treatments have failed to relieve the symptoms.
The main goals of sinus surgery are to improve nasal breathing and airflow, relieve symptoms and allow normal mucus drainage. Sinus surgery will also “open up” the pathways to the lining of the nose and sinuses - making nasal sprays and rinses much more effective.
Some of the problems sinus surgery may help treat include:
- Structural abnormalities such as growths or tumours
- Recurrent or chronic sinusitis
- Nasal polyps
- Sinus disease often contributes to snoring and OSA
Types of sinus surgery
Sinus surgery is performed to restore normal nasal function - breathing and mucus drainage.
Depending on which sinuses are involved in the infection and inflammation, each operation is tailored to the individual patient's scans, examination and symptoms.
All patients will have a CT scan of the sinuses prior to surgery. This is used to navigate around the sinuses during the operation.
In some cases it may involve removing nasal polyps, infected tissue or bone. Sinus surgery has evolved and is much less invasive than it used to be with shorter recovery time and less post-surgical bleeding. Often a septoplasty and turbinoplasty is performed at the same time.
How is sinus surgery performed?
Sinus surgery is performed under general anaesthesia, through the nasal passageways without any external incisions or cuts.
A small telescope called is used to see the inside of the nose and the entrance to the sinuses. Other specialised instruments are used to perform the procedure through the nostrils.
Sinus surgery preparation and aftercare
All patients of Melbourne Sleep Surgery have a detailed consultation prior to surgery to understand what to expect before, during and after sinus surgery as well as risks of the procedure.
Our ENT surgeon Dr Nathan will address any questions or concerns and offer additional information to help you understand your options and how to take the next step.
Some things to consider are:
- How to care for your nose after surgery
- How physically active you can be after surgery
- When you are expected back for follow up appointments
- Medications that may cause complications in nasal surgery
You’ll be given instructions and advice to help with your healing and recovery.
Sinus surgery: the procedure
Admission to hospital
Detailed instructions will be given prior to admission
General anaesthetic is administered by your anaesthetist
Anaesthetic injections and decongestant into nose for optimal operative conditions
With nasal/sinus surgery, dissolvable packing is left in the nose to encourage faster healing
The next day
Commence rinsing the nose with salty solution, pain relief as needed
2-3 weeks post-surgery
Nasal breathing/symptom improvements once swelling subsides
Frequently asked questions about Sinus Surgery
Normal sinusitis presents with a combination of:
- Facial pain or pressure
- Lost sense of smell
- Feeling of fullness in the face, head, or eyes
- Thick coloured mucus
- Nasal obstruction
The surgery takes approximately 1-2 hours depending on each case.
Patients may experience some discomfort and pain for a few days after surgery although pain management medications are prescribed to help you through this period. It is normally not excessively painful. Nasal congestion is normal post-operative.
As with all surgical procedures there are risks involved. However the risk of serious complications is low. All risks will be discussed in detail prior to surgery.
Patients undertaking desk duties or light duties may be able to return to work in a few days. Any strenuous or physical jobs require 2 weeks off work. Patients will be back to normal exercise after 2 weeks.
As the procedure is performed through the nostrils and does not require external incisions, patients normally spend one night in hospital, but can occasionally go home the same day. Patients will need to arrange a family member or friend to transport home. Dr Nathan will share detailed post-operative instructions before surgery.
Frontal sinuses: behind the forehead
Maxillary sinuses: in the cheekbones
Ethmoid sinuses: between the eyes
Sphenoid sinuses: behind the ethmoid sinuses, at the base of the skull
It’s best to avoid blowing your nose for 2 weeks after surgery to minimise the risk of bleeding.
It’s suggested to avoid strenuous activity for at least 2 weeks. More relaxed exercise (going for a walk etc) is encouraged.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.