Learn more about the recovery process after sinus surgery and how long you can expect it to take.
Sinus surgery has come a long way. With advancements in technology and techniques, recovery time from sinus surgery has decreased over the past decade. Most patients are able to return to work within a few days, but healing differs with each person for a few reasons, including:
- Unique anatomy of the nose
- Individual recovery speeds
- Extensiveness of each sinus surgery
Your doctor will help you determine exactly how long your recovery will take. While you can typically return to work within a few days, it can take a few months and up to a year to realize the full benefits and improvements from your sinus surgery.
Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
Sinus surgery is a highly effective procedure, helping 85-90 percent of patients to experience long-term sinus relief after surgery. During endoscopic sinus surgery, your doctor will use a small tube, called an endoscope, to examine your nose and sinuses. The scope may be attached to a camera, and the surgeon can open the sinus and nasal passages using these tools. Balloon sinuplasty is an alternate type of procedure to achieve the same goal. Sinus surgery is performed with general anesthesia, so you’ll be asleep during your procedure. After a few hours in recovery, most patients are able to go home the same day.
Symptoms Immediately After Your Sinus Surgery
After sinus surgery, you can expect a number of immediate symptoms, including:
Congestion: Right after surgery, your nose will feel stuffy, like there’s something inside of it.
Bleeding: During the first few days post-surgery, you’ll experience some bleeding. You can place gauze or tissue under your nose to catch the drainage and change it as needed. This will be frequent in the first couple of days, but should taper off in a few days.
Fatigue: As your body heals and recovers, you will feel extremely tired. This can last for a couple weeks post-surgery, and it’s important to rest as much as you need to.
Mild pain: Most patients don’t experience severe pain after sinus surgery, and are able to control their pain with Tylenol. However, every patient is different and for some, pain may be more intense.
Sinus headaches: After sinus surgery, your sinuses may be swollen, causing pressure changes that lead to headaches.
What to do After Sinus Surgery
It’s important to follow all of your doctor’s instructions after your sinus surgery to expedite healing and ensure a full recovery. Here are a few things we recommend:
- Start taking pain medication immediately. Most patients can control their pain with Tylenol. Don’t use blood-thinning pain medications like aspirin (Motrin, Advil, Aleve, etc.) because these increase your risk of increased bleeding. Your doctor will prescribe other prescription medications, if needed.
- Start using a saline rinse the day after surgery. We will provide a saline rinse that you should use at least four times a day (but you can use it more). These irrigations will help rinse blood and mucus out of your nose and alleviate congestion.
- Use a saline nasal spray throughout the day. This will help keep your nose moist, as moisture is vital for healing. Use 2-3 sprays in each nostril every 1-2 hours throughout the day.
- Rest! Avoid vigorous activities and allow yourself plenty of time to recuperate.
- Take time off of work. We recommend planning for at least 4-5 days away from work. While your bleeding should subside quickly, you may still feel fatigued for a longer period of time.
- Elevate your head. Use extra pillows at night and sit with your head held high. This will reduce swelling and bleeding post-surgery.
- Use an ice pack. To help with swelling and pain, you can use an ice or cold pack on your nose for 10 to 20 minutes at a time.
The First Week After Surgery
Other recommendations to encourage healing during your first week of recovery include:
- Don’t blow your nose. Use a saline rinse to clear your nose.
- Sneeze with your mouth open. Don’t avoid sneezing, but if possible try to keep your mouth open.
- Avoid strenuous activities. This includes biking, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercises. Light walking and household activities are OK.
- Don’t bend over or lift anything heavy. Avoid lifting anything over 10 pounds.
- Avoid swimming. You can take a shower or bath, using lukewarm water.
- Use a humidifier. This will keep the air in your home moist.
- Keep your mouth clean. Use salt-water or alcohol-free mouthwash after each meal and before bedtime.
Post-operative care is just as important as the surgery itself, and we want to ensure your sinus surgery is a success. Following your procedure, you’ll have frequent appointments with your surgeon for up to four months. During these times, we’ll look inside your nose with an endoscope to monitor healing and clean out your nose and sinus passages.
Sinus Surgery Experts
At Advanced ENT & Allergy Center, our doctors are experts in diagnosing and treating sinusitis and other sinus problems. Dr. Menachof was one of the first surgeons trained in endoscopic sinus surgery in the United States. He has over 20 years of experience and has performed over 10,000 successful sinus surgeries.