Frequently Asked Questions – Sinus Surgeries

Be sure to ask your doctor any questions that you may have in regards to your condition and treatment options.

When is sinus surgery necessary?

Most patients with chronic sinus infections don’t need surgery. Medical treatment and lifestyle changes are usually effective. However, if these treatment options fail to work, surgery may be an option.

Having surgery is a big decision. Many factors have to be considered first. For example: How severe are your symptoms? What does a CT scan show? How is your general health?

You and your doctor will decide if sinus surgery is the best choice for you. If you’re an older adult, or if you have a child that may need sinus surgery, special considerations need to be taken. It’s important to work with your doctor to get the treatment that’s best for you or your family member.

What happens during sinus surgery?

Today, Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS) is the most common surgical method to treat chronic sinus infections. In a FESS procedure, the surgeon uses a magnifying endoscope to see and remove affected tissue and bone.

Before FESS, surgeons cut directly into the outside of the face to find the problem and remove it, increasing infection risks and recovery time. FESS is a precise, minimally invasive way to open the sinuses and treat chronic sinus infections.

The three sinus procedures discussed here may be performed using FESS. Which one your ENT doctor uses depends on multiple factors, including the cause of your chronic sinus infection. In general, the goal of sinus surgery is to flush out infected material, open up blocked passages, and keep enough healthy tissue so that your nose and sinuses can function normally.

How long is recovery time?

Your recovery time depends on your overall health and which sinus surgery you have (ethmoidectomy, maxillary antrostomy, or powered septoplasty with turbinoplasty). Usually, you should plan to be away from work or school for at least several days after your surgery. Your doctor will give you specific advice on your estimated recovery time and instructions on how best to care for yourself to help speed recovery.

How much pain is there with this surgery?

Every individual tolerates pain differently. Many patients manage sinus surgery pain with oral pain medication. Your doctor can tell you what to expect, based on the type of surgery you have. Facial swelling or bruising is rare, but the inside of your nose will be swollen and sore for a while. This may make breathing through your nose difficult for several weeks.

Information on this site should not be used as a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.

Last updated: 27 Sep 2010

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