Sinus surgery is the process of opening blocked sinus passageways to treat chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps or other issues causing the patient distress.
Notably, sinus surgery differs from turbinate reduction surgery. While surgery opens and expands blocked passageways, turbinate reduction surgery reduces the size of your nasal turbinates (the small bony structures inside your nose).
Here’s what to know about sinus surgery, including the process, different types, cost and aftercare.
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Sinus Surgery Process
The surgical process is a common and simple one.
Healthcare providers issue you general or local anesthesia so that you don’t feel any discomfort or pain. Then, they insert surgical tools through either your nasal passageway or your mouth, depending on which type of sinus surgery you opt for.
Types of Sinus Surgeries
There are several different types of sinus surgeries, but all treat varying levels of sinusitis.
Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS) is a standard surgical procedure to treat serious sinus conditions.
For FESS, your doctor injects a numbing solution into your nose before inserting surgical tools alongside an endoscope. They then remove bone, damaged tissue or any polyps blocking your sinuses. Some doctors use a rotating tool to scrape out excess tissue before packing your nose with material to absorb any blood or discharge.
With balloon sinuplasty, your doctor administers general anesthesia or offers conscious sedation. They add a topical decongestant to your nose and inject it with a local anesthetic before inserting a slim wire catheter into your nostril.
This catheter guides a small balloon into the blocked passageways. Your doctor then slowly inflates the balloon to gently widen the nasal passageways before deflating and removing the tools. Your doctor can repeat the process until your sinuses are completely clear.
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Septoplasty is a sinus procedure that treats issues with the septum: the thin wall of bone and cartilage separating your nostril chambers.
If you suffer from a deviated or bent septum that causes breathing problems, your doctor may suggest septoplasty to straighten the septum and reduce sinus issues. Your doctor can do so through an endoscope or incision.
The Caldwell-Luc procedure is a less common surgery because it tends to be a bit more invasive. Your doctor might suggest this type of surgery when a growth is present inside the sinus cavity. The procedure involves removing the growth and improving sinus drainage.
With this sinus surgery method, your doctor administers anesthesia and makes a small cut in your upper jaw above the molars. They then enter the sinus cavity through this cut to open your maxillary sinus and create a new path. Your doctor also removes any damaged tissue or bone during Caldwell-Luc to keep your sinus cavities clear.
Who Qualifies for Sinus Surgery?
If you suffer from severe sinus issues — including chronic sinusitis, damaged sinus tissue or nasal polyps — you may qualify for sinus surgery. Doctors typically recommend sinus surgery for patients with sinusitis who have tried sinus medication and seen no relief.
[Related: Are Nasal Polyps Disrupting Your Life?]
Sinus Surgery Cost
The cost of sinus surgery varies. However, if you have medical insurance, it may cover the surgery cost.
Insurance coverage depends on the type of surgery and whether your doctor has deemed it medically necessary. Even with medical insurance, out-of-pocket costs for sinus surgery can range in the hundreds of dollars.
A 2021 study reported that the average surgery for your sinuses can cost anywhere from $3,600 to $10,500 for those without health insurance.
Sinus Surgery Aftercare and Healing
Recovering from this surgery is fairly straightforward, and you usually don’t experience many issues or complications. Here’s what to expect after sinus surgery.
After your surgery, your doctor should provide you with detailed instructions and set up an additional appointment to check on your healing progress.
In the meantime, your doctor may issue you a nasal spray to relieve any discomfort in the days following the surgery. You might also experience these symptoms:
- Bloody discharge for three to five days
- Nasal and sinus pressure
- Fatigue in the first week
- Nasal congestion and discharge in the first few weeks
Make sure you avoid these activities for a couple weeks after your surgery — they can cause increased bleeding:
- Blowing your nose
- Doing heavy exercising or lifting
- Using steroid nasal sprays
- Taking aspirin and other nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
As far as complete sinus surgery recovery time goes, everyone’s different. Nevertheless, you can expect to be pretty much healed after one month. If you run into any issues during the healing process, be sure to contact your doctor.
[Related: When Should I Consider Balloon Sinuplasty?]
Contact Dr. Pasha Today
Are you wondering whether surgery for your sinuses is worth it? Contact Dr. Pasha for answers.
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