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Sinus Surgery

Chronic sinus infections are a common medical problem in Texas. Treatment includes environmental modification, treatment with antibiotics and other sinus/allergy medications, allergy shots and even surgery. Surgery may be recommended to improve nasal or sinus blockages, remove polyps, or to treat headaches/facial pain.

Sinuses are “air pockets” in the skull that are usually present in pairs. There are sinuses in the forehead area known as the fontal sinuses. The deeper sinuses are the ethmoid sinuses and the sphenoid sinuses. Behind the cheeks are the maxillary sinuses. Depending on the problem, your surgeon may recommend surgery on some or all of the sinuses. Usually this is done “endoscopically,” with a camera scope and other instruments while you are asleep under anesthesia.

The follow-up care after surgery is important to improve the chances of success. This may include sinus rinsing, medications, and endoscopic exams in the office to keep the sinus cavities “clean” or “unblocked” after surgery.

While surgery is usually safe, there are some important, but rare, risks to be aware of before deciding to do surgery. This includes injury to the eye causing double vision or blindness, and injury to the brain leading to a stroke or spinal fluid leakage. Other risks include nosebleeds, scarring, recurrence of sinus disease, or need for another surgery. Your surgeon will discuss these with you in detail.

Instructions for After Surgery

  • It is common to feel nasal drainage and the passage of nasal secretions and blood clots for several days, but sometimes for 2-3 weeks. Surgery also causes swelling of the sinuses so it is normal to feel congestion and fullness in the nose and facial area.
  • Keeping your head elevated with pillows and placing cool compresses on the face and forehead can help reduce swelling.
  • Diet: Avoid hot, spicy foods but otherwise there are no dietary restrictions.
  • Medications: Take pain medicines, antibiotics, or any other meds as prescribed.
  • Activity: The day of surgery, take rest to recover from anesthesia and the operation. Most people need 1 week off from work and/or school to recover. Avoid sports, strenuous activities, leaning over, or lifting greater than 5 pounds for 2 weeks. Avoid swimming and diving for 4 weeks after surgery.
  • Other: Keep a bottle of Afrin nose spray (no prescription needed) available so that it can be used if directed by the nurse or physician for bleeding.
  • Also, keep a pharmacy number AND the number for a 24 hour pharmacy handy if you call for any medications (especially after hours).
  • Nose Rinses: It is important to do nasal saline irrigation of the nose and sinuses after surgery to promote proper cleansing and healing. We recommend that you purchase a Grossan Hydro-Pulse Nasal and Sinus Irrigation System (try a Google search). You can get buffered saline packets from our office (or the pharmacy) and buy distilled water at the pharmacy also. Mix as directed on the saline packets and then use the solution you just made, in the Sinus Irrigation System.
  • Start cleansing your nose the evening of surgery (or the next morning if it is too sore) and do it 5 times a day until your first surgery follow-up visit. Lean over the sink and place the nasal tip up against your nose. The liquid may come out of the nose (on I or both sides) or drain down the throat. You may not get much in there initially, but that will improve with time. Packing is sometimes placed in the nose depending on the nature of the surgery. Some of this may come out, may dissolve or be cleaned out at your follow-up appointment. It is OK if the packing comes out before the visit.
  • Use Qtips with hydrogen peroxide to clean and remove dried blood or crusting from the nostrils, ifneedcd.
  • You will be directed as to the frequency of nose/saline rinses and the use of other nose sprays at you follow-up visit. Until then, do not use antihistamines (Claritin, Benadryl, Allegra, Zyrtec), unless directed by your physician. Also, do not use other nose sprays unless directed to do so.

Please call at 972-402-8404, extension 130 if you have any questions or concerns.

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