Sinus Operation – A Guide to Relieving Chronic Sinus Issues

Sinus infections, characterized by facial pain, congestion, and a runny nose, can significantly disrupt your daily life. While medication and lifestyle changes often offer relief, for some individuals, chronic sinusitis becomes a persistent issue. In such cases, sinus surgery might emerge as a viable option to restore proper sinus drainage and alleviate recurring symptoms.

What is Sinus Surgery?

Sinus surgery, also known as functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), is a minimally invasive procedure designed to improve drainage from the sinuses.  Our sinuses are air-filled cavities located around the eyes, nose, and cheeks. When the mucus membranes lining these cavities become inflamed or swollen, they can become blocked, leading to a buildup of mucus and the development of sinusitis.

FESS utilizes an endoscope, a thin, flexible tube with a camera attached. This instrument is inserted through the nostrils, allowing the surgeon to visualize the inside of the sinuses. Miniature surgical instruments are then passed through the endoscope to remove blockages, such as polyps (abnormal growths), or widen narrowed drainage pathways.

The Mechanics Of Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)

Here’s a breakdown of how functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), works:

Anesthesia: The procedure is typically performed under general anesthesia, ensuring you are completely asleep and comfortable throughout the surgery.

Endoscopic Visualization: The endoscope is inserted through the nostril and navigated to the affected sinus cavities.

Clearing Blockages: Using specialized surgical tools, the surgeon removes polyps, inflamed tissue, or bone that might be obstructing the sinus drainage pathways.

Widening Drainage Openings: In some cases, the surgeon may widen the natural openings of the sinuses to facilitate better drainage of mucus.

Closure: No external incisions are needed. The endoscope is then removed, and the nostrils may be packed with temporary dressings to control bleeding.

Benefits of Sinus Surgery

For individuals with chronic sinusitis that doesn’t respond well to medication or conservative treatment, FESS offers a range of potential benefits:

Reduced Sinus Infections: By opening blocked drainage pathways, FESS helps prevent mucus buildup, thus reducing the likelihood of future infections.

Improved Drainage: Widened sinus openings allow for better drainage of mucus, alleviating pressure and congestion.

Enhanced Sense of Smell and Taste: Chronic sinusitis can diminish your sense of smell and taste. FESS, by improving sinus drainage, can potentially restore these senses.

Reduced Facial Pain: Pressure and inflammation in the sinuses often cause facial pain. FESS can significantly reduce this discomfort.

Improved Quality of Life: Relief from chronic sinusitis symptoms can significantly enhance your overall quality of life.

Dangers of Delaying Treatment

While sinus surgery is a safe and effective procedure, neglecting chronic sinusitis can lead to complications. Here’s why timely treatment is crucial:

Recurring Infections: Untreated chronic sinusitis can lead to a cycle of recurring infections, requiring frequent antibiotic use and potentially antibiotic resistance.

Vision Problems: In rare instances, severe sinusitis can spread to the eye socket, causing vision problems.

Bone Damage: Chronic inflammation can erode the bones surrounding the sinuses.

Post-Operative Care Tips

Following sinus surgery, proper care is critical for optimal healing and recovery. Here are some essential tips:

Pain Management: You may experience some discomfort after surgery. Take prescribed pain medication as directed by your doctor.

Rest: Allow your body ample time to heal. Avoid strenuous activity for the first few days.

Nasal Irrigation: Regularly use a saline nasal irrigation solution to keep your nasal passages moist and promote healing.

Nasal Sprays: Your doctor might prescribe nasal steroid sprays to reduce inflammation and promote healing.

Elevating Your Head: Elevate your head while sleeping to promote drainage and reduce swelling.

Diet: Maintain a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables to support healing.

Avoid Smoking: Smoking can irritate the nasal passages and hinder healing.

Follow-up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor to monitor your progress.

Signs You Need to See a Nose Specialist

If you experience any of the following symptoms for more than 12 weeks, it’s crucial to consult an Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) specialist to determine if sinus operation might be a suitable option:

  • Facial pain and pressure around the eyes, forehead, or cheeks
  • Thick, yellow, or green nasal discharge
  • Postnasal drip (drainage down the back of the throat)
  • Difficulty breathing through the nose
  • Frequent headaches
  • Reduced sense of smell or taste
  • Facial pain that worsens when bending forward


Sinus surgery is a valuable tool in the fight against chronic sinusitis. While it’s not a first-line treatment, for individuals experiencing persistent symptoms that significantly impact their quality of life, FESS can offer a path towards lasting relief and improved well-being.  If you suspect you might have chronic sinusitis, consulting an ENT specialist for a proper diagnosis is the first step. Discussing your individual situation and exploring all treatment options, including FESS, will empower you to make informed decisions for your health and reclaim a life free from the burden of chronic sinus problems.