In the US, over 28 million adults are diagnosed with sinusitis, over four million of whom have chronic sinusitis. For most of these people, their sinus infections clear up with the help of antibiotics.

For others, however, it gets to a point where these relief methods don’t work. Sinusitis happens when sinuses swell, and it causes congestion and discomfort.

Most of the time, it’s caused by allergies, bacteria, and viruses, which is easier to clear up. When sinusitis is caused by nasal polyps, a deviated septum, or other structural problems, it may get to a point when sinus surgery is necessary.

What Is Sinus Surgery

Sinus surgery is a procedure designed to open up the nasal pathways and clear any blockages found. Surgery is usually a good option for people with chronic sinusitis or recurrent sinus infections. It’s also suitable if it’s found that you have abnormal growths in your sinuses or have an abnormal sinus structure.

Specialists always try other treatment methods before finally resorting to surgery. Even though sinus surgery may cause a little discomfort, it’s usually very brief. The specialist may remove one of several things, which include nasal polyps, swollen or damaged sinus cavity, mucus membranes, tumors, and other types of growths that could be blocking the airways.

Different Types of Sinus Surgeries

There are several types of sinus surgery, the most common one being endoscopic sinus surgery. The doctor will choose the best option depending on your condition. Let’s take a look at your options.

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

The FESS surgery is done using an endoscope, which is an illuminated fiber-optic tube. During the procedure, the tool is inserted inside the nasal openings until it reaches the sinuses. A micro-telescope or other surgical instruments are then inserted into the endoscope.

These tools are used to remove the blockages in the sinuses. The procedure leaves minimal to no scarring, and you may experience mild discomfort, but only for a short time. This procedure can be done on an outpatient basis.

Image-Guided Sinus Surgery

This is a relatively new sinus surgery that is often used for severe sinus blockages that can’t be removed using the FESS procedure. Image-guided surgeries also use the endoscope but also uses a 3D mapping system that shows the surgeon exactly where the blockage is and where to direct the surgical instruments. Using infrared signals and CT scans, the surgeon is able to remove blockages and tissue accurately.

The Caldwell-Luc Operation

This is a more invasive sinus surgery and only an option when there is growth in the sinus cavities. The surgery is designed to remove the growth, clear the blockage, and improve drainage. During the procedure, the surgeon needs to make a cut in the upper jaw to enter the sinus cavity, and the surgeon may need to use general or local anesthesia.

The Recovery Process

Once the sinus surgery is over, the surgeon will use nasal packing, which is essentially inserting sterile gauze materials into your nasal cavity to control any bleeding. The packing may or may not be absorbable, depending on your surgical procedure. The recovery period will also highly depend on the procedure and other factors like your age and health.

After the surgery, you may experience some common symptoms, such as fatigue, nasal congestion, discomfort, and mild bleeding. Common medications you may receive include pain medication, saline rinses, antibiotics, or steroids.

Risks Involved In Sinus Surgery

In most cases, bleeding happens within 24 hours after surgery then subsides, but in other cases, it may occur day or weeks after the procedure. A clot could develop within the septum, and if that happens, it needs to be removed. Beyond that, you could experience intracranial complications, such as the septum attaching itself to the roof of your nose.

Brain fluids could leak to the nose, and there is a possibility it could lead to an infection in the lining of your brain, causing meningitis. All these are very rare, though, and surgeons identify and repair them during the initial surgery.

In other rare cases, damages may occur in the eyes since they are very close. Some patients experience bleeding in the eyes. If the bone separating the sinus and the eye is damaged, visual loss and temporary or permanent double vision may happen. The tear ducts could also be affected, which causes excessive tearing.

Additionally, there’s always the possibility of the loss of smell, infection, and other nasal issues.

After the Surgery

Once the surgery is over, the doctor will advise you on what to do and prohibit what you should do to ensure you heal faster. It may be necessary for you to avoid blowing your nose, sleep with your head raised, and keep your mouth open when you feel the need to sneeze.


You should understand that surgery may not be the cure for your sinus problem. Look at it more like a treatment plan. There is always a possibility that the illness will recur, and you could get sinus infections from time to time even after the surgery.

When this happens, you may need to go through surgical therapy. However, even when it’s not a permanent solution, it may be worth it depending on the severity of your condition.

Everything You Needed to Know About Sinus Surgery

Overall, a large number of patients that undergo sinus surgery experience a significant improvement. If your sinuses never seem to go away, surgery is a good option because it could help get rid of the problem completely. The best course of action is to talk to your specialist and find out how severe your problem is and what kind of surgery is most suitable for you.

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