Sinus surgery is often recommended for individuals with chronic sinus issues who are unresponsive to medication. Chronic sinusitis, nasal polyps and deviated septum frequently necessitate surgical intervention. Understanding the various aspects, from preparation to recovery, can help ease concerns and ensure a smoother experience.

Types of Sinus Surgeries

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)

FESS is a common procedure for treating chronic sinusitis and other related conditions. It utilizes an endoscope, a flexible tube with a camera and light at its end to visualize the internal structures of the sinuses. Special surgical instruments are used alongside the endoscope to remove obstructions such as polyps, scar tissue, or other blockages contributing to sinus issues.


  • Minimally invasive: There are no external incisions as it uses natural orifices.
  • Quick recovery: Most patients can return to regular activities within a week.


  • Possibility of bleeding or infection
  • Potential for damage to surrounding structures like the eye or brain, although this is extremely rare.

Balloon Sinuplasty

Balloon Sinuplasty is even less invasive than FESS and is generally used for less severe cases of sinusitis.

A balloon catheter is inserted into the inflamed sinus. Once positioned, the balloon is inflated to dilate the sinus opening, facilitating better drainage and ventilation. The balloon is then deflated and removed.


  • Minimal tissue damage: Unlike FESS, it doesn’t involve cutting or removing tissue.
  • Quick recovery: Patients often return to normal activities within a day or two.


  • It may not be effective for severe cases involving large polyps or significant anatomical abnormalities.
  • Potential for minor bleeding or infection.

Caldwell-Luc Operation

The Caldwell-Luc Operation is a more invasive procedure and is generally considered when other treatments have failed.

This operation creates a surgical opening in the upper jaw (maxilla) to allow for better maxillary sinus drainage. The space provides a new drainage pathway for mucus, bypassing any obstructions.


  • Effective in severe cases where other procedures have failed.


  • More invasive: Requires an external incision and involves drilling through bone.
  • Longer recovery time.
  • Risk of nerve damage, leading to numbness in upper teeth or palate.


Septoplasty focuses on correcting a deviated septum, the cartilaginous and bony divider between your nostrils.

Surgeons make an incision inside the nostril and then remove or reposition the malformed cartilage and bone to create a more symmetrical passage.


  • Improved airflow: Helps in treating breathing difficulties.
  • It may alleviate some cases of snoring and sleep apnea.


  • Potential for septal hematoma, where blood collects within the septum.
  • Possibility of an unfavorable cosmetic outcome.

Steps of Preparation for Sinus Surgery

Medical Evaluation

Before any surgical procedure, a comprehensive medical evaluation is crucial. This assessment helps the surgical team determine if you are a suitable candidate for surgery.


  • Detailed medical history
  • Physical examination
  • Preliminary diagnostic tests, such as blood tests or imaging studies


  • Identification of any potential health issues that might complicate surgery.
  • It helps the healthcare provider determine the best surgical approach.


  • None typically, as this is a noninvasive assessment.

Pre-Operative Tests

These diagnostic tests are carried out before surgery to understand your health status comprehensively.


  • Blood tests: To check for underlying issues such as infection or anemia.
  • ECG: To evaluate heart function.
  • Imaging studies: X-rays, CT scans or MRIs to visualize the surgical area.


  • Establishes baseline data for comparison after surgery.
  • May reveal previously undiagnosed conditions.


  • Some imaging tests may expose you to low levels of radiation.
  • False positives/negatives may require additional tests.

Medication Review

A review of all the medications you’re currently taking, including supplements and over-the-counter drugs.


  • Discuss with your healthcare provider about the medications you are currently on.
  • Special attention to blood thinners may need to be stopped or adjusted before surgery.


  • Minimizes the risk of drug interactions or surgical complications related to medication.


  • Altering medication schedules can pose some risks if not carefully managed.


You are generally advised not to eat or drink anything for at least 8 hours before surgery.


  • To minimize the risk of aspiration during surgery, which can lead to pneumonia.


  • Reduces surgical and anesthesia risks.


  • Low blood sugar levels in some individuals, though this is monitored and managed by the surgical team.

The Surgery Day: What to Expect


General or local anesthesia will be used depending on the surgery type and duration.


  • Ensures you don’t feel pain during the procedure.


  • Potential for allergic reactions or anesthesia complications.

Surgical Procedure

The surgical procedure can vary greatly depending on the medical issue.


  • Ranges from 30 minutes for minor procedures to several hours for major surgeries.

Risks and Benefits

  • It is highly dependent on the type of surgery being performed.

Recovery Room

After the surgery, you will be moved to a recovery room where healthcare professionals monitor your vital signs.


  • Monitoring heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels.
  • Immediate post-op assessment for potential complications.


  • Ensures safe recovery from anesthesia and surgery.
  • Immediate intervention in case of complications.


  • Potential for complications like infection or post-operative bleeding, though these are closely monitored.

Complications Post-Surgery


Some level of bleeding is typical after most surgical procedures involving the sinuses. The extent varies based on the specific surgery.


  • It’s usually self-limiting, meaning it will stop on its own.
  • For excessive bleeding, immediate medical intervention may be required.


  • Excessive blood loss, although rare, may necessitate a blood transfusion.


Though uncommon, infections are a possible risk after any surgical procedure.


  • Administered antibiotics to mitigate the risk.
  • Strict sterility protocols are followed during surgery.


  • If not treated promptly, infections can spread and become severe.


Scarring is generally minimal, particularly in procedures like FESS, where the incisions are internal.


  • Using advanced surgical techniques can further minimize scarring.


  • Excessive scarring could lead to obstruction, although this is rare.

Facial or Eye Complications

These are rare but serious complications.


  • Temporary facial numbness
  • In extreme cases, vision problems may occur


  • Permanent damage, although exceedingly rare, is a possibility.

Aftercare and Recovery Timeline

Immediate Aftercare

What to Expect

  • Nasal packing to minimize bleeding and stabilize the surgical area.
  • A nasal splint may be applied to maintain the new structure.

Short-Term Recovery

What to Expect

  • Minor discomfort and some level of nasal discharge are common.
  • Limiting physical activities for a set period is usually advised.


  • Pain medication and antibiotics may be prescribed.

Long-Term Recovery

What to Expect

  • Complete healing often takes several weeks.
  • Regular follow-up appointments will monitor healing and any potential complications.
  • Generally, patients can resume work within 1-2 weeks, depending on the type of surgery and recovery rate.


  • Ongoing medication or treatment may be necessary, depending on the individual case.

Making an Informed Decision

Sinus surgery can offer lasting relief from chronic sinus conditions. Being well-informed about what to expect before, during and after the surgery helps you make educated healthcare decisions. If you suffer from chronic issues with your sinuses, call Broward ENT & Aesthetics in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, at (954) 466-7312 or schedule your consultation here.

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