Sinus surgery is performed to improve the airflow of the nose and sinuses.
The sinuses are interconnected passages behind the forehead, cheekbones, nasal cavity and between the eyes. They are lined with soft moist tissue that humidify and filter the air on the way to the lungs. They also affect the sound of your voice.
In order to function properly, sinuses need to be able to drain mucus from the nasal passages. When the sinuses aren’t working properly, they may be swollen, inflamed, blocked or infected.
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 some cases sinus symptoms persist, for instance where medication does not provide adequate relief or there are structural deviations, nasal polyps or tumours.
In addition to helping you breathe well, the sinuses are essential for smell and taste. When they’re not functioning correctly, quality of life can be negatively impacted and this is where sinus surgery may be of benefit.
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:
The main goals of sinus surgery is to improve breathing and airflow, relieve symptoms and reduce the number of sinus infections and obstructions when other medical treatments have not provided relief.
Some of the problems sinus surgery may help treat include:
- Structural abnormalities such as growths or tumours
- Recurrent or chronic sinusitis
- Nasal polyps
Types of sinus surgery
Sinus surgery typically involves enlarging the openings between the sinuses and the nose to allow better drainage and airflow.
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.
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) is a less invasive approach to sinus surgery, where the sinuses are opened up and drained by operating through the nostrils. This can be done at the same time as septoplasty or turbinate surgery.
In a Balloon sinuplasty procedure, a special inflatable balloon is used to open up the sinuses without surgically removing tissue. This is also a minimally invasive procedure.
In some sinus operations CT scans may be used to improve the outcome of surgery. For serious sinus conditions other surgical techniques may be used.
How is sinus surgery performed?
Sinus surgery is usually performed under general anaesthesia, through the nasal passageways without any external incisions or cuts. This means it does not involve cutting through the skin of the nose as the procedure is performed entirely through the nostrils.
A small telescope called a nasal endoscope 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 such as FESS and sinuplasty may be combined with septoplasty or turbinoplasty.
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
Sinusitis is an inflammation of the sinuses that can cause them to get blocked and filled with mucus. The symptoms include:
- Facial pain or pressure
- Lost sense of smell
- Feeling of fullness in the face, head, or eyes
- Thick coloured mucus
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 can usually 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
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.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.