Sinuses are cavities inside a person’s skull that are situated around the eyes and nose and within the front of the face. These cavities help to make the skull lighter. They also produce mucus that adds moisture to the nasal passages. The mucus provides a protective layer to help keep out unwanted particles like pollutants, dirt, and infectious organisms. Sinuses are lined with cilia, which are very fine hair-like cells. The cilia help to drain mucus through the passages of the sinuses and out into the nose.
Types of Surgery
If you decide to get surgery, you have a few different options. Among these are endoscopy and balloon sinuplasty.
This is a common procedure. Doctors insert very thin and flexible instruments called endoscopes into your nose. One instrument has a small camera lens that sends images back to a screen. That way, the doctor can see where your sinuses are blocked and guide the other instruments that gently remove polyps, scar tissue, and others. Doctors won’t cut into your skin, so your recovery will be faster and easier. Endoscopy is usually done with a local anesthetic, meaning the area will be made numb and you can be awake. You’ll likely be able to go home when it’s over.
If your doctor doesn’t need to remove anything from your sinuses, you may be a good candidate for this newer type of surgery.
The doctor puts a thin tube into your nose. Attached at one end of it is a small balloon. She then guides the balloon to the blocked area inside your nose and inflates it. This helps clear the passageway so your sinuses can drain better and you won’t be so congested.
When Is nasal Surgery Needed?
It depends on the cause. Sinusitis is swelling in your sinuses that causes congestion and discomfort. Several things can cause your nasal passages to become blocked and lead to this condition. Some of these are:
Infections by bacteria, fungi or viruses
Small growths called polyps on the lining of your sinuses
A deviated septum, meaning a crooked wall in between your nostrils
If you don’t get relief from your medicine, nasal rinses, or other treatments, tell your doctor. She/he may send you to a specialist. Surgery may be an option if your sinusitis is due to a deviated septum, polyps, or other structural problems. The main goals of nasal surgery are to relieve your symptoms and cut down on how many infections you get. If they keep coming back, chances are there’s something in your nasal cavity that surgery could fix. An operation should also help you breathe better through your nose. And in case the problem has affected your sense of smell or taste, surgery might help with that, too.
Why is nasal surgery performed?
Sinus infections are usually treated with medication rather than surgery. Sinus surgery may be necessary when those infections are recurrent or persistent. Sinus surgery is most commonly used to treat chronic sinusitis (inflammation of the nose and sinuses), but maybe needed for other sinus problems. Surgery involves enlarging the openings between the sinuses and the inside of the nose so air can get in and drainage can get out. It may involve removing infected sinus tissue, bone or polyps. Modern sinus surgery has less post-surgical bleeding, is less invasive and involves a shorter recovery time than sinus surgery in the past.
An ethmoidectomy, a maxillary antrostomy, and a powered septoplasty with turbinoplasty are different procedures, but what happens following surgery is similar. It can take several weeks for you to fully recover. You’ll have some swelling and tenderness inside your nose after the surgery, but this is normal. You may have symptoms like a severe cold or a sinus infection. This is due to swelling, dry blood, mucus, and crusting in your nose. To help your nose and sinuses return to normal, your doctor may recommend nasal irrigation or saline sprays and antibiotic lubricants. After surgery, it’s important to take good care of your nose and sinuses to let them heal properly and prevent scars. In some cases, your doctor may have placed temporary nasal packing inside your nose to support the newly opened sinus passages and to absorb excess fluid while your tissues heal. According to your surgery, you’ll be asked to return for a follow-up visit after your operation. During that visit, your doctor will remove any packing (if necessary), make sure that your surgery site is healing based on the plan, and give you more instructions on caring for your nose and sinuses.
Risks of nasal surgery
The complications that can occur during sinus surgery are mostly rare and include the following:
Bleeding after surgery tends to happen within the first 24 hours. However, it can sometimes occur later, after days or even weeks. If a clot develops within the bony partition between the nasal passages, commonly called the septum, then it must be removed.
The septum attaches to the roof of the nose. This thin layer of bone may be damaged during sinus surgery. However, this is a very rare complication. Brain fluid can leak into the nose and, in severe cases, can lead to an infection in the lining of the brain such as meningitis. While this issue is extremely rare, it is often identified and repaired while the initial surgery is taking place.
Damage to the eye or surrounding tissue
As the sinuses are so close to the eye, bleeding can sometimes occur into the eye. This happens when the thin layer of bone that separates the sinus from the eye is damaged. This is rare and, again, is usually spotted and treated while the surgery is taking place. In extremely rare instances, visual loss and blindness have been reported. There have also been rare reports of damage to the muscles that move the eye, which can lead to temporary or permanent double vision. Other instances may lead to a change in how the tear ducts work, causing excessive tearing.
Changes to a person’s voice
Sinuses affect the resonance of a person’s voice. A complication of sinus surgery can sometimes lead to a change in someone’s voice.
Loss of smell or taste
After sinus surgery, a person’s sense of smell usually improves due to the airflow being restored. However, it can worsen in rare cases depending on the extent of swelling or infection. This is often temporary but can be prolonged.
Dealing with sinus infections is the main reason why sinus surgery is done. A person with sinusitis can develop other infections in this area as a result of surgery. However, this complication is also possible if a person doesn’t undergo surgery for a long-term sinus infection.
Sinus surgery usually improves airflow. However, in rare cases, surgery can worsen this. Small amounts of scar tissue may also build up in the nasal passage that will require another procedure to remove.