Chronic sinusitis is the repeated inflammation of the sinuses. Inflamed sinuses can’t drain mucus properly, so they cause pain, pressure, headaches, and difficulty breathing. If you have chronic sinusitis, you may have tried multiple medications or other treatments with no luck. When medications don’t work, many doctors recommend a balloon sinuplasty.
Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally-invasive procedure, so there are no incisions and no removal of bone or tissue. The treatment permanently opens up your sinuses, which lets them drain properly and makes it easier to breathe.
Balloon sinuplasty is a good option for most people with chronic sinusitis. If you’re considering undergoing the procedure, you should understand how the procedure works and who can benefit from it. This will help you make an informed decision when choosing your best treatment option.
How Balloon Sinuplasty Works
Most people are under general anesthesia during the balloon sinuplasty procedure. Some ENT doctors perform the surgery in their office with local anesthesia. During your consultation, you and your doctor will decide on the best option for your surgery.
Your doctor will use a sinus-illumination system to light up the area, which will help them with accuracy. A small balloon catheter will be inserted through your nostril and will travel to the opening of your sinus. Then, the balloon will be inflated, which will open up your blocked sinuses.
Once your sinuses have opened up completely, your doctor will insert an irrigation catheter into your sinuses. This catheter will allow your doctor to clean out your sinuses with a saline solution. Then, all the fluid and mucus will be drained from your inflamed sinuses.
When the balloon catheter is removed, your sinuses will stay open. The procedure gently reconfigures your nasal bone structure, which will let your sinuses drain normally. Mucus will no longer build up in your nose and cause irritation and inflammation.
The entire procedure usually takes an hour or slightly longer. You won’t have to stay overnight in the hospital unless there were complications, which is rare. It takes about two days to recover and return to your normal daily activities. Some pain or sinus pressure is normal for a few days, and you can control it with acetaminophen. Your doctor will advise you not to take NSAIDS like aspirin or ibuprofen, though, because they can cause excessive bleeding. Congestion is normal while you recover, too, but you should start to breathe normally after two or three weeks.
Most people don’t need repeat procedures to maintain the results. Once your sinuses are open, they’ll likely stay open. However, people with severe sinusitis may need an occasional repeat procedure to prevent the condition from coming back.
Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty
For many people, balloon sinuplasty is preferable to traditional sinus surgeries. It’s approved by the FDA and can be performed on adults and children. The procedure has a very high success rate, and most people achieve permanent results with just one procedure.
A balloon sinuplasty is less invasive than traditional procedures, so there’s less risk of developing complications. Your doctor doesn’t make any incisions during the procedure, so there’s a very low risk of bleeding or infection. A balloon sinuplasty won’t damage the surrounding tissue, and it won’t leave any scars.
Because the surgery is minimally invasive, the recovery time is short and easy. Compared to a traditional sinus surgery, you’ll take less time off of work or off of your daily activities. You’ll also probably experience less pain and discomfort.
Candidates for Balloon Sinuplasty
Candidates for balloon sinuplasty experience chronic sinus infections and haven’t had luck treating the infections with medication. The sinusitis causes frustrating symptoms like headaches, congestion, coughing, and fatigue.
Children and adults can both undergo a balloon sinuplasty procedure. Your doctor will make sure that you have no other medical conditions that could increase your risk of complications. However, most people with chronic sinusitis are good candidates for the procedure.
There are some sinus conditions that cannot be treated with a balloon sinuplasty. If you have serious scarring in your sinuses, you probably won’t be a candidate for the procedure. Nasal polyps, which are growths along the sinuses or nasal passages, also may disqualify you from receiving a balloon sinuplasty. The surgery cannot treat ethmoid sinusitis, which is an infection of the sinuses near the bridge of the nose.
Dr. Ran Rubinstein, the founder of Hudson Valley Sinus Center, is a top ENT and facial plastic surgeon in New York. He has more than 15 years of experience working with sinus disorders, cosmetic surgery, and facial reconstruction. He is board certified by the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery and the American Board of Otolaryngology- Head and Neck Surgery.