Choosing to have sinus surgery is a big step. But for some patients who don’t see results from other treatments, it could offer a much-needed sense of relief. All surgeries are unique, based on the type of sinus problems, any physical blockages, and other health and lifestyle factors. Your sinus surgeon is the best resource for giving you specific advice, but there are a few general guidelines on what to expect after sinus surgery.
1. You’ll need time to rest up.
After surgery, you can expect to be groggy and low on energy. Most patients take off 2 or 3 days after sinus surgery — more if your work is physically strenuous or is in an area with poor air quality.
The week after surgery, you might wish to sleep with your head elevated on two or three pillows — to about 30° in elevation. That can help your sinuses drain better.
2. You’ll probably feel achy and congested.
General achiness and mild sinus headaches are common for the first few weeks. In many cases, extra-strength acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) is enough to help. Aspirin and NSAIDs (Motrin, Advil, Aleve, etc.) should be avoided post-surgery. If Tylenol doesn’t tackle the pain, your doctor might prescribe a pain reliever.
In addition, you’ll likely feel stuffy and congested. That can last two or three weeks while your sinuses heal, but some stuffiness might linger over a few months. It’s also common to notice red nasal drainage, which should get darker and decrease in amount over a few days. For up to two weeks, you might notice a small amount of blood-tinged drainage.
3. You’ll have at-home “treatments.”
At home you may feel congested for up to a few weeks after surgery. While your breathing will generally feel much improved by 3-4 weeks, the airway can continue to improve for a few months after your procedure.
4. You’ll have to avoid certain exercises.
Physical strain and sinus surgery don’t mix. Vigorous exercise (like jogging, aerobics, contact sports and more) can get in the way of the healing process, so your sinus surgeon will tell you how soon you can start working out again. You should avoid lifting heavy objects while you heal…and even avoid blowing your nose for about a week after the operation.
5. You should be told when to call your doctor.
Sinus surgeries are fairly common, and complications are rare. But if you notice signs like these, be sure to check with a medical professional right away:
- A fever of 100.5° or higher
- Eye pain or vision problems
- Excess or persistent bleeding from the nose
- Constant clear, watery discharge that occurs after your first week post-surgery
- Stiffness in the neck, along with a fever, an intense headache and severe fatigue
- Severe diarrhea
- Pain that won’t go away with medicine
There is usually a constant trickle of blood from the nose the night after surgery. Please call your sinus surgeon if you have persistent or excess bleeding.
Typically, balloon sinuplasty is done in the office with only local anesthesia. In these cases, you can usually return to your full normal activities the next day.
Your doctor also might tell you more warning signs related to your specific procedure.
Having sinus surgery doesn’t guarantee that all your sinus aches and pains will go away forever. But for many patients, it does mean an improvement in quality of life. If you have questions about whether sinus surgery is right for you, call us for a consultation anytime.