Recovery from Sinus Surgery
Following directions before and after the surgical procedure will allow a rapid recovery and help deliver the best results possible.
RECAP: Deciding to Undergo Sinus Surgery
To determine whether or not you need surgery, read the checklist below and see how many are applicable to you:
It is strongly recommended that you undergo sinus surgery if all of the above are TRUE:
- Your doctor has diagnosed you with chronic sinusitis.
- You have followed an intensive treatment plan, including antibiotics and other medications under a doctor’s supervision without symptom relief.
- Your doctor ordered a sinus CAT scan following the treatment period to analyze the source of infection or recurrent infections.
- The results of this sinus CAT scan identify a chronic sinus infection or a problem in your sinuses that complicate and prevent draining.
You may need to undergo surgery if any of the above are true:
- Your doctor has informed you that the cause of your sinus infections is due to a fungal infection. This means that antibiotics will be ineffective in reducing the inflammation and discomfort you are experiencing.
- The blockages in your sinuses are many and severe. For example, your doctor may recommend surgery based on a variety of conditions that are best solved by surgery, whereby the doctor removes the following:
- Infected tissue
- Obstruction of sinus drainage paths
- Growths (nasal polyps)
- Pieces of bone (so as to widen the opening in the nasal cavity for drainage purposes)
NOTE: Sinus surgery is always to be performed by an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) specialist, also called an otolaryngologist. These are the only surgeons who receive surgical training on the paranasal sinuses.
How long does it take to recover from sinus surgery?
The time it takes to recover from your sinus surgery depends on a variety of factors, principally the kind of surgery you have had performed. These include one, or a combination of ethmoidectomy, maxillary antrostomy, frontal sinustotomy, sphenoidotomy, septoplasty and turbinoplasty. You will most likely be cautioned to notify your school or workplace that you will need a few days to a week to recover fully. The first week will feel like the “worst cold of your life” after surgery. For the next few weeks you should feel progressively better until you return to normal or better than normal.
Will I experience pain after surgery?
Whether or not you experience pain after your surgery is different for every patient. Each person has his or her own level of pain tolerance. Some may need to take prescription pain medication, while others do not need any pain medication whatsoever. It is common for patients to feel severe nasal congestion like it is the worst cold of your life. Your doctor will provide you with oral pain pills to take in the event that you are feeling pain after surgery, and will explain to you what type of discomfort you should expect after your procedure.
The type of pain that patients experience is usually a sore and swollen feeling inside of the nose. Dull throbbing pains may occur where bone was removed. Facial swelling or bruising is usually mild after sinus surgery. A headache can be normal for at least the first day and maybe longer.
Doctor Bennett rarely needs to place packing inside the nose. This can prevent additional severe congestion, pressure and pain that packing may cause. Postoperative visits begin at 6 to 7 days after surgery. Patients may experience pain and discomfort on the postoperative visits when crusting and sutures are removed from inside the nose.
How will I feel immediately after sinus surgery?
Whether your doctor performs an ethmoidectomy, a maxillary antrostomy, or a septoplasty with turbinate reduction, there will be similar symptoms that you are likely to experience.
It may take a few weeks before you feel back to normal. You will also notice swelling and tenderness inside your nose. However, do not be alarmed as this is normal. You may also experience either a slight cold sensation, due to dry blood, inflammation, mucus, and crusting in your nose. To help decrease this, it is important to stick to a regime of using nasal irrigation, saline gels, antibiotic ointments, or a combination of the three to promote proper healing.
Post-op Do’s and Don’t
DO: Meet with your doctor for post-op visits
Dr. Bennett understands that post-operative care is essential to your receiving the best results after sinus surgery. Patients are seen starting one week after surgery in the office and then as frequently as necessary to examine the sinus area with an endoscope, clean your nose and sinuses, and to make sure you are healing properly.
Postoperative visits are perhaps the most important after-surgery care a patient can receive.
DO: Follow at-home instructions
In addition to meeting with your doctor, you must also be sure to irrigate your sinuses at least twice daily, using sterile saline. To guarantee the best results, sleeping in an elevated position for the first two to three weeks following surgery is also recommended, since it will make for better nasal airflow and less nasal congestion. You should call your doctor if you feel as if you are bleeding excessively,
DON’T: Blow your nose or engage in contact sports
Dr. Bennett also reminds patients to absolutely avoid blowing your nose for the first 7 to 14 days after surgery, to allow for the delicate tissues to heal properly. If you have to sneeze, try your best to sneeze with your mouth open.
Further, it is recommended that you skip the gym and take care not to sign up for any physically demanding contact sports or work for a period of at least 2 weeks, otherwise you are susceptible to nasal bleeding due to the stress placed on your body. However, after your sinuses have fully healed, you may continue your daily normal living routines – and hopefully with improved sinus function and better breathing.
DON’T: Take aspirin or ibuprofen
Do not take aspirin or NSAIDs (like ibuprofen or naproxyn) while your nose is healing. They will prevent clotting and potentially increase bleeding.
Although sinus surgery is a procedure that is not to be taken lightly, and involves careful planning and performance, the rewards can be life-changing, and sometimes the only effective treatment for those who suffer from chronic sinusitis. Sinus surgery, when indicated, has been proven to decrease incidence of sinusitis and improve patient quality of life.
Dr. Bennett understands the frustrations of patients who have been through courses of antibiotics with no definitive or long-lasting improvements. Likewise, if you are concerned after having a sinus surgery that did not improve your symptoms, you should consider obtaining a second opinion as all sinus surgery techniques and sinus surgeons are not alike. Although complete recovery takes may take months, for many it can be a life-changing solution where other treatment plans have failed.
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