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Sinus Surgery Overview

Sinuses are the empty pockets that are filled with air in the head. There are four pairs of sinuses within your skull. These circulate air while lubricating the nose. This keeps the sinuses free of bacteria, dirt, and other particles. Mucous lines the sinuses which traps particles from incoming air. These dust particles are then expelled via cilia, small hair like fibers. Sinuses that are in good health are not obstructed or clogged. Mucus is able to pass through into the nose and then the throat without problems.

Colds, allergies, infections or other obstructions of the sinuses (i.e. deviated septum) can cause inflammation of the mucosa and block the drainage of the sinus cavities. If the sinuses become inflamed, Sinusitis can occur. The mucous becomes thicker, cannot pass through the openings, and accumulates in the sinuses. Many symptoms can arise including fever, headaches, and pain over and underneath the eyes. Polyps form when mucosa becomes swollen by repeated infections.

Our doctors will determine if you have sinusitis during your examination. We will examine your ear, nose and throat and determine the cause of your sinusitis. Diagnosis can occur with the help of x-rays, CAT scan or MRIs in order to see the sinuses within your skull. Blood or allergy tests may also be performed. Treatment may be based upon the cause of your infection. Obstructions caused by allergies can be minimized or eliminated by treating the allergy. Sometimes humidifiers, warm compress over your sinuses, or drinking lots of fluids (which thins out your mucus) can also alleviate symptoms. Medications including antibiotics can treat an infection in the sinuses and control the condition. Repeated sinusitis may be caused by an obstruction and will be most responsive to surgery.

Surgery can be performed in a number of ways. It’s possible that the walls between sinuses are removed to make the sinuses larger. When the sinuses are larger, there is less chance for obstruction to occur. Sometimes new openings are created in the sinuses for better drainage. If an obstruction is caused by a deviated septum, surgery can help straighten it out. Many of these options are performed endoscopically and under general anesthesia. Patients usually are treated and go home the same day.

Sinus surgery is a very common procedure and helps treat sinus disorders. There are some rare risks, which should be discussed during your visit with our doctors. Our doctors will explain possible complications to help you better understand your treatment options.

Patient Instructions

Please read and familiarize yourself with these instructions both BEFORE and AFTER surgery. By following them carefully, you will assist in obtaining the best possible results from your surgery. If questions arise, please contact our physicians or nurses.


  • If you experience signs or symptoms of an upper respiratory infection or other illness within five days prior to surgery, please call our Surgical Coordinator at .
  • Do not take any aspirin or aspirin-containing, ibuprofen or ibuprofen-containing drugs for one week prior to surgery. Examples of these include Aspergum, Darvon, Fiorinal, Norgesic, Advil, Motrin and many over-the-counter cough and cold preparations. Additionally, you should not take any nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Naprosyn which have a similar effect. If you are on this type of medication, please discuss this matter directly with us before stopping it.
  • Do not eat or drink anything, including water, after midnight prior to surgery.
  • Use AFRIN NASAL SPRAY as directed pre-op. Your physician will provide you with prescriptions for medications to take at home following surgery. Please prepare by filling your prescriptions prior to your surgery. Take only the medications prescribed by your physician(s).


  • Any pain medications prescribed by our physicians are safe to use in the post-operative period. For children, liquid acetaminophen (brand names Tempra and Tylenol) may be used with a dosage determined by the age of the child. Adults may use tablets or capsules of acetaminophen with the same brand names.
  • Most often the intranasal packing is absorbable, however on occasion non-absorbable packing is required for your surgery. Do not disturb this packing. Occasionally, a black or white string will be seen coming out of one or both sides of the nose. This is attached to the packing and should neither be cut nor pulled. If it becomes a source of annoyance, tape it to the skin of the nose.
  • Change the dressings under the nose (if present) as needed. Use gauze 2×2’s and inch non-allergic nylon tape.
  • Sleep with your head elevated on two pillows.
  • Avoid caffeinated products.
  • In the immediate post- operative period (seven to ten days), supplemental humidity as supplied by a COLD water humidifier will help in your comfort. This is especially important during cold weather months.
  • Avoid extreme and strenuous activity. Obtain more rest than normal. Most patients stay out of work or school for about one week. Circumstances surrounding your employment might allow you to return sooner or require that you stay out longer.
  • Do not swim for four weeks after surgery.
  • No hot showers.
  • Contact lenses may be worn within two to three days after surgery.
  • For several days following surgery, you will experience some slight bloody mucoid drainage from the nose. This will usually persist for a week or two. If any active bleeding occurs, you should bend your head forward and allow the blood to drip out and then blow your nose. This technique will be utilized in the office when your packing is removed. Should the bleeding persist, please call our office immediately.
  • On occasion, there may be a need to remove the non absorbable nasal packing within one to three days after surgery. You will be notified of this. Most often, however, the packing is absorbable and does not need to be removed. In the post-operative period, there is a tendency for crusts to form inside the nose. To prevent this we will give you a bottle of Pretz Nasal Spray (on your first post-operative visit) for usage at home. You should use several sprays in each nostril several times per day. Additionally, Bacitracin Ointment is used to coat the inner area of the nasal opening. At the time of your first post-operative visit, the nurse will show you how to do this. Neither of these medications require a prescription.

If you have any questions concerning your comfort or care, please contact our office at .