Sinus Surgery

Sinus surgery includes many types of procedures that alleviate symptoms or treat conditions that affect a person’s sinuses. Some people may seek sinus surgery due to the severity of their sinus conditions and the lack of successful non-surgical treatments. The type of sinus procedure will depend on the sinus problem itself, but also on the recommendation of your ENT doctor and the conversations had with the surgeon.

Quick Links

woman at the doctor getting her sinus checked.

What is Sinus Surgery?

Sinus surgeries are used to treat chronic sinusitis, remove polyps from the sinuses, and can treat a host of other conditions that affect sinuses. The procedures may involve removing infected sinus tissue, bone, and polyps, and are often recommended when medication hasn’t helped remedy a problem or cannot be treated without surgical intervention. Many sinus surgeries are less invasive and have a fairly quick recovery time. 

Types of Sinus Surgery

The types of sinus surgery a patient may be recommended include:

  • Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS): The most common type of sinus surgery. The procedure widens the drainage passages between the nose and sinuses, removing bone or infected tissue so any trapped mucus can drain. 
  • Balloon Sinuplasty: A treatment for sinusitis that attempts to dilate the sinus openings to allow sinuses to drain. 
  • Caldwell Luc Surgery: This type of sinus surgery is performed with an incision under the upper lip to access the cheek sinuses.

Procedural Details of Sinus Surgeries

Each of the surgical treatments for sinus conditions has different steps, but is similar in pre-operative procedures:

  • Smoking should be stopped at least three weeks before your sinus surgery
  • Refrain from taking any aspirin or other blood thinning medication for at least seven days as aspirin can increase bleeding
  • Sinus surgery can include either local anesthesia or general anesthesia, if the latter then it’s important to not eat or drink anything after midnight the day of the surgery
  • A patient will be unable to drive for 24 hours after their sinus surgery, it’s important to arrange for someone to drive you home
  • There will be a preoperative screening to ensure the patient is able to have sinus surgery. 

Below, read the specific steps and what is involved in each type of sinus surgery

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

  • A decongestant is administered to the nose
  • A nasal endoscopy is performed
  • A numbing solution is injected into the nose
  • Using the endoscope and surgical tools alongside it, bone, diseased tissue, or polyps that are blocking the sinuses are removed.

Balloon Sinuplasty

  • Local anesthetic is injected into the tissue lining of the nose
  • A catheter is placed into the nose using an endoscope to help guide it
  • Using the catheter, a small balloon is placed into the sinuses
  • The balloon is slowly inflated to unblock the sinuses before removing the balloon.

Caldwell Luc Surgery

  • General anesthesia is administered
  • The surgeon makes an incision into the gum between the upper lip and gum tissue in order to reach the wall of the maxillary sinus
  • A small hole is made in the sinus wall to access the sinus and remove any damaged or diseased bone or tissue
  • The initial incision in the gum is sealed with a suture.

Unless given local anesthesia, a sinus surgery patient will rest in a recovery room while waiting for the effects of general anesthesia to wear off. Before leaving, the surgeon will provide information about recovering at home and how to care for yourself, and may prescribe pain medication and antibiotics.