Sinus surgery is a safe, well tolerated surgical procedure that is usually performed as an out-patient procedure. That means most patients can go home the same day as surgery. There may be some instances where your surgeon may decide to keep you overnight. You should check with your surgeon if this will be necessary for you.
Endoscopic sinus surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia, which means you won’t remember the procedure because you are completely asleep. Once you are asleep, the surgeon will use specialized instruments passed through your nostrils to open up the diseased sinuses. This helps remove swollen or infected tissue and improve medication delivery after surgery.
There are a lot of risks associated with endoscopic sinus surgery, but thankfully the risks are uncommon. Minor complications are more common than major complications. Minor complications occur about 5% of the time and including bleeding, infection, scaring, pain, decreased or loss of smell, and tearing. It is normal to have a little bleeding after surgery for 24-48 hours. Your surgeon might place packing in the nose at the end of the case to help stop bleeding. If you experience an uncontrollable nosebleed after surgery, you might need to go to the ER, to your surgeon’s clinic, or to the operating room to control it, but this is rare. Infection after sinus surgery is also uncommon, but your surgeon might place you on antibiotics following surgery. Scar is another minor complication but that is why it is important to keep your post-operative appointments. Your surgeon will make sure your sinuses are healing appropriately. Pain following sinus surgery varies but is usually low for most people. Some surgeons give pain medication after surgery, while others give over-the-counter medication.
Major complications are rare but important to understand. Thankfully, these occur less than 1% of the time according to studies. The first major complication is severe bleeding requiring intervention. This can mean transfusion, return to the operating room, or packing. It will be important to alert your surgeon if you experience uncontrollable bleeding following sinus surgery. The second major complication is injury to the eye, as the sinuses are right next to the eye. This can result in double vision, change in vision, or loss of vision. This complication occurs about 0.1% of the time and the surgeon can often recognize it immediately and intervene to prevent long-term issues. The last major complication is injury to the bone that separates the brain from the nose, resulting in a cerebrospinal fluid leak. This means the fluid around the brain drips down into the nose. This complication is also very rare, occurring about 0.1% of the time. If this occurs, the surgeon can repair the bone to keep the nose and the brain separate.
There are a lot of possible complications, which can make sinus surgery seem scary. Thankfully these complications are very rare, and the vast majority of patients do great without any complication. Understanding these risks will allow you to make the most informed decision about whether to move forward with sinus surgery. Be sure to have an open and honest discussion with your surgeon about the risks of endoscopic sinus surgery.