Dealing with chronic sinus issues can really affect your quality of life, often leaving you feeling frustrated and fatigued.
Fortunately there are medical procedures that can address stubborn sinus problems. Sinus surgery encourages the natural drainage of your sinuses, allowing you to breathe better. GlobMed can direct you to the best otolaryngologists and rhinologists to deal with your nasal difficulties.
What Is A Sinus Surgery And Who Needs It?
Your sinuses are an important part of making, and circulating, mucus – the lubricant and protector of our nose. These airy spaces in your facial bones are connected to the nose through small openings, and while we may not notice the hollow cavities when they are working well, if the sinuses become infected or blocked, particularly on a chronic basis, they can make your life quite miserable.
Allergy treatment or medication may be the first option provided by your otolaryngologist (also known as an ENT specialist), but there are other options to get relief.
If you have been suffering from a sinus problem that has not been eased by other treatments, sinus surgery might be your next step. In the long run, temporary solutions can also be expensive, and your condition could worsen over time, requiring more drastic interventions at a later stage.
Some of the conditions that can be eased by sinus surgery include:
- Chronic sinusitis: Sinusitis occurs when your nasal passages and sinuses are inflamed, causing discomfort in the form of a stuffy nose, coughing, nasal drainage, and pressure around the sinuses.
- Deviated nasal septum: When the thin wall separating the two nostrils is off centre, air flow through the nostrils may be impaired.
- Nasal polyps: Noncancerous growths in the lining of your nostrils or sinuses can accumulate and cause a blockage.
- Enlarged adenoids: Adenoids consist of lymphatic tissue located at the back of children’s nasal passages, which can become swollen and cause breathing difficulties or chronic infections.
- Turbinate hypertrophy: Turbinates are small, bony structures inside your nose, which can become enlarged, causing breathing difficulties and congestion.
- Obstructive sleep apnea
- Nasal or paranasal tumours
What Are The Different Forms Of Sinus Surgery?
Before deciding on surgery, you will have to undergo a thorough examination and medical history to establish the symptoms, causes, and risks associated with your case.
An otolaryngologist or rhinologist (a subspeciality of otolaryngology specialising in nasal and sinus disorders) will consult on and perform the procedure, sometimes alongside other professionals such as neurosurgeons, depending on your unique circumstances.
Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)
This is the most common sinus surgery, and generally aims to remove obstructions that affect airflow and drainage of the sinuses, as well as widening the nasal passages.
An endoscope (surgical instrument with a light and camera) is inserted into the nose and guided into the sinuses where the surgeon can visualise them. Surgical tools can fit inside the endoscope, making the procedure minimally invasive. FESS can also be combined with other sinus surgeries.
This procedure is used to treat a deviated (crooked) septum. An endoscope or small incision is used to gain access, and then your surgeon will restructure the septum to improve airflow.
This procedure may also be referred to as a turbinoplasty or turbinectomy. If your turbinates are chronically inflamed and enlarged, your surgeon can remove excess tissue using a number of different tools.
This procedure involves the removal of the adenoids, which can become swollen and interfere with nasal breathing. It is generally performed in children.
This minimally invasive procedure makes use of a thin flexible wire (catheter) which is guided into the sinuses with a small balloon. The balloon is positioned in the blocked part of the sinuses, and then inflated to open that area up for improved airflow.
What Are The Risks Of Sinus Surgery?
The risks of sinus surgery will vary from person to person. Your surgeon will discuss your unique risk factors with you before the procedure. Some possibilities include:
- Bleeding: Sinus surgery generally results in minimal bleeding, if any. If bleeding occurs, you may require nasal packing and a hospital stay.
- Infection: Postoperative infection is a risk associated with most surgeries. If this occurs, antibiotics can be used to treat the infection.
- Cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) leak: CSF leaks are rare complications, however they can cause brain inflammation or meningitis and should be taken very seriously.
- Changes in vision: While rare, it is possible for your vision to be affected following sinus surgery. This may refer to double vision, or loss of sight in one eye. If you are experiencing visual disturbances, contact your doctor promptly.
- Tearing eyes, or minor swelling around the eyes.
- Loss of smell or taste.
How Long Does It Take To Recover From Sinus Surgery?
There are many factors that contribute to recovery from surgery. Your surgeon will give you detailed advice specific to your needs.
Most modern sinus surgeries are designed to be minimally invasive and therefore allow for a faster recovery. You may have dressings that will be removed shortly after the operation, or in some cases splints, which may need to stay in longer.
Recovery treatments could include nasal irrigation, pain medication, antibiotics, or steroids. You will usually return for a follow-up consultation for cleaning and inspection of the surgical site.
You will have to avoid blowing your nose for at least a few days, and some bloodied discharge is common. You may experience mild pain, and a nose that feels stuffy. You may also need to sleep with your head elevated, and avoid dusty or smoky places.
Generally, sinus surgery is aimed at improving chronic sinus issues, rather than necessarily curing them. You may need to continue with medications after the procedure, and in some cases more than one surgery could be required.
Regular consultations with your otolaryngologist are important for finding the best solutions for your needs, both in the short and long term
Frequently Asked Questions
Sinus surgery is generally not considered a serious surgical procedure. It is usually carried out under general or local anaesthesia, and therefore should not be painful. However, you may experience mild pain for a short period after the surgery.
This surgery has nothing to do with your sinuses as discussed above. While the name may come up when you are looking for information on sinus surgeries, the pilonidal sinus is just above your buttock cheeks, not your head. Pilonidal sinus surgery treats cysts of the pilonidal sinus.