Sinus infections bring pain and misery to millions of Americans. When the condition is chronic or recurs frequently and medications do little to provide relief, then sinus surgery is often recommended. There are a couple of different procedures available, each with the same goal in mind: to remove nasal obstructions and enlarge the sinus openings, enabling drainage of fluids.
Sinus surgery is far more commonplace now than in the past. Advances in medicine have led to procedures that are minimally invasive with little risk for complications.
Sinus Surgery Procedures
Depending on the patient, there are several surgical sinus procedures available. These include:
- Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). This operation, developed in the 1950s, involves use of a nasal endoscope to open the natural pathways to the sinuses. A thin tube with a camera attached is inserted into the nose, and any obstructive tissue is removed. In most cases, the procedure is completed entirely through the nostrils, so no external scars are left behind. Swelling is limited, and pain or discomfort is mild.
- Image guided surgery. This procedure relies on a 3D mapping system using CT scans and information about the exact position of surgical instruments through the use of infrared signals. This allows the surgeon to accurately guide instruments through complex sinus passages and is especially helpful for those with chronic sinusitis or when previous sinus surgery has changed the usual anatomy of the sinuses.
- Balloon sinuplasty. In this surgical procedure, a balloon catheter is inserted through the nostrils into the sinus passages, and gently inflated. This causes the sinus cavity to expand, allowing for easier drainage. The balloon is then deflated and removed. This operation is minimally invasive, provides immediate relief, and results in a much quicker recovery. Many patients are able to return to work the next day.
Each surgical procedure requires a different recovery period. Patients who undergo FESS or image guided surgery can expect to recover after three to five days. They should refrain from strenuous physical activity during this period and may need to change dressings and take pain medication. Balloon sinuplasty involves no cutting of tissue or bone, and patients generally recover more quickly.
Your doctor can advise which sinus surgery is best for you based upon your symptoms and unique condition.
What Is FESS?
The goal of FESS is to open up the sinuses, allowing normal drainage of fluids to occur. Without proper ventilation, mucus builds up in the sinuses, leading to infection.
To determine if you are a candidate for FESS, your doctor will thoroughly examine your ears, nose and throat, looking for obstructions and other abnormalities such as nasal polyps. If the odds of a successful surgery look promising, an appointment will be scheduled with a surgeon at Willamette ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery.
FESS is usually performed as an outpatient procedure under local anesthesia. An endoscope is inserted in the nose, and the camera is used to visually inspect the sinus openings. The surgeon relies on these images in order to remove excess obstructive tissue.
The surgery is performed through the nostrils, making it a less intrusive procedure that won’t leave scars or cause facial swelling or bruising. Post-operative care includes flushing the nasal passages to keep debris from building up. In some cases, antibiotics or steroids may be prescribed in order to speed up the recovery process.
Call Willamette ENT & Facial Plastic Surgery at (503) 581-1567 for more information or to schedule an appointment.