Balloon sinuplasty

Chronic sinusitis can be treated by balloon sinuplasty, a breakthrough strand of endoscopic sinus surgery that’s generally considered faster and less invasive than the traditional method. Sinus issues can usually be resolved with antibiotics or the use of nasal drops, but if you are unresponsive to these treatments, surgery may be necessary to alleviate your symptoms.

What does the surgery involve ?

The procedure requires no incisions, and takes between an hour and a hour and a half to perform.

Balloon sinuplasty was cleared by the FDA in 2005, and is a catheter based system. During the procedure – which is usually performed under general anaesthetic, although there is also scope for it to be performed under local anaesthetic at the patients and surgeons discretion – an endoscope is inserted via the nose to give the surgeon a clear vision and access to the sinuses. After that, a medical balloon is inserted over a wire catheter. The balloon is inflated in a controlled way, which will slowly dilate the sinus openings and widen the walls of the sinus passageway. Widening the sinus walls should resume normal drainage in the area, and clear the symptoms of sinusitis.

What should I expect after surgery?

Balloon sinuplasty is minimally invasive, and requires less recovery time than a lot of other surgical procedures. You should be able to return home on the same day as your procedure, regardless of which anaesthetic you have been administered.

Patients who have the procedure under local anaesthetic can expect to return to work in as little as 2-3 days.

The pace at which your symptoms clear varies from patient to patient, but it is generally understood that after around a year, patients will have experienced a meaningful improvement in their sinus symptoms and quality of life.

You should not experience much pain after surgery of this nature. Any mild discomfort you do experience can be managed by painkillers, which will be prescribed to you by your surgeon.

What are the risks associated with Balloon sinuplasty?

There is a low complication risk association with balloon rhinoplasty/sinuplasty, thanks to its less invasive nature. There still are some risks that you should factor into a decision though. As with all surgery, there is a chance of infection, but this can usually be easily handled with antibiotics, which can be prescribed by your surgeon where necessary. Risks that are specific – albeit uncommon – to balloon sinuplasty include:

  • BleedingA small amount of bleeding postoperatively is common and nothing to worry about. If you are bleeding to excess or at a later stage in your recovery, contact your surgeon.
  • Eye problemsbecause the sinuses are so close to the wall of the eye socket, minor bleeding can cause bruising around the eyes. This will improve rapidbly in most cases, although it is important not to blow your nose, which can exacerbate it. More serious bleeding into the eye is incredibly rare, but can happen. This can lead to swelling and issues with sight.
  • Spinal Fluid Leakthe sinuses are also close to the bone at the base of the brain, which means that all sinus operations carry a small risk of damage to this bone. If this does occur, you may require further surgery. Very rarely, if an infection in the sinuses spreads to the spinal fluid, it is possible to contract meningitis. Discuss this with your surgeon prior to treatment if you are worried about it.
The Face Surgeons