A woman lying in the grass with her two dogs touches noses with one dog.

Sinus surgery

Expert sinus surgery for sinusitis, nasal polyps and other sinus concerns

We’ve all experienced congestion or pressure around our nose at some point in our lives. This is often caused by a cold or allergies and goes away on its own. But congestion that won’t go away or keeps coming back might be a sign of an underlying sinus condition.

Sinuses are small cavities in the skull around the nose and eyes. They produce mucus that helps protect your nose from pollution, dust, dirt and germs. Most people don’t notice their sinuses at all – until they cause discomfort.

If you’re struggling with a sinus condition, your doctor might find that sinus surgery is right for you. Our board-certified otolaryngologists (also called ENTs) are experts at treating sinus conditions and care for patients in Minnesota and western Wisconsin. We’ll work with you to diagnose the cause of your condition and determine if sinus surgery is the best treatment option for you.

What is sinus surgery?

The goal of sinus surgery is to remove blockages in your sinuses so they can function normally again. Your sinuses might be blocked by fluid or mucus buildup, growths or damaged tissue. Sinus surgery is an effective way to treat these conditions so you can feel like yourself again.

When is sinus surgery needed?

Sinus surgery is typically used to treat chronic or recurring sinus infections, a condition known sinusitis. Sinus surgery is also used to treat structural abnormalities or abnormal growths in the sinuses. Sinus surgery can be an effective treatment option for the following conditions:

  • Recurring or chronic sinusitis
  • Nasal polyps (small growths inside the sinuses)
  • Fungal infection
  • Cancer of the sinuses

Types of sinus surgery

There are different types of sinus surgery. Our ENTs will talk to you about which option is the best for your unique needs. Common types include:

Functional endoscopic surgery

Functional endoscopic surgery is a minimally invasive procedure and is the most common type of sinus surgery. During this type of surgery, your doctor won’t need to make incisions to your skin. Instead, we’ll use a thin, flexible tube with a camera on the end called an endoscope.

We’ll guide the endoscope through your nose and into your sinuses so we have a clear view of the site of the problem. Then we’ll use advanced surgical instruments to remove the blockage.

We’ll keep you comfortable with general anesthesia or a local anesthetic. We’ll talk with you about your pain management options before the procedure. Generally, you’ll be able to go home the same day as the procedure. It can take one to two weeks to fully recover after functional endoscopic surgery, but many patients feel like themselves after a couple days.

Sinus balloon surgery (balloon sinuplasty)

Another type of minimally invasive sinus surgery is sinus balloon surgery, which is also called balloon sinuplasty or nasal balloon surgery. This procedure is highly effective for treating sinus conditions caused by a buildup of mucus or fluid. However, it’s less common than functional endoscopic surgery.

During balloon sinuplasty, your doctor will guide a thin tube into your sinuses. On the end of the tube is a small, deflated balloon catheter. Once the balloon catheter is inside the sinus cavity, we’ll inflate it. This makes more space inside the sinuses, allowing your doctor to remove the buildup of fluid or mucus. We won’t be able to remove any tissue or growths from your sinuses using balloon sinuplasty.

We’ll use local anesthetic or general anesthesia to keep you comfortable. Most often, you’ll be able to go home the same day as your procedure.

Open sinus surgery

Open sinus surgery is rarely used, but we might recommend this type of surgery if functional endoscopic surgery isn’t the best treatment option for your condition. During this type of sinus surgery, we’ll make an incision from the inside of your mouth or on your skin directly over the affected sinuses. Once the incision is made, your doctor will be able to remove damaged tissue or growths and reconstruct any structural concerns that are causing sinus problems. We’ll use general anesthesia to keep you comfortable during the procedure.

Completely recovering from this procedure can take between two and four weeks. But you’ll start to feel better a few days after surgery.

Before your sinus surgery

In order to determine if sinus surgery is right for you, we’ll need to perform an in-office procedure to evaluate your symptoms and the condition of your sinuses. In most cases, we’ll need to examine your sinuses with an endoscope. An endoscope is a thin tube with a camera on the end that allows us to look inside your sinuses. This helps us understand what’s causing the blockage and determine the best way to treat it. It’s also common for us to use a CT scan to take images of your sinuses. This is another way for us to examine your sinuses.

We only use surgery if it’s the best treatment option for your condition. If you’re a good candidate for sinus surgery, we’ll answer your questions and let you know how to prepare.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)