Sinus Surgery (Patient Instructions)

  • Medical Author:

    Dr. Shah obtained his BA/MD from Boston University and completed his Otolaryngology residency at Tufts University followed by a fellowship in Pediatric Otolaryngology at Children's Hospital Boston at Harvard University. After fellowship, he joined the faculty of Children's National Medical Center in 2006. Dr. Shah is an active clinical researcher and has received numerous awards for his research.

  • Medical Editor: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD
    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

    Dr. Charles "Pat" Davis, MD, PhD, is a board certified Emergency Medicine doctor who currently practices as a consultant and staff member for hospitals. He has a PhD in Microbiology (UT at Austin), and the MD (Univ. Texas Medical Branch, Galveston). He is a Clinical Professor (retired) in the Division of Emergency Medicine, UT Health Science Center at San Antonio, and has been the Chief of Emergency Medicine at UT Medical Branch and at UTHSCSA with over 250 publications.

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Quick GuideSinus Infection (Sinusitis) Symptoms and Treatment Options

Sinus Infection (Sinusitis) Symptoms and Treatment Options

How long will it take to recover from sinus surgery?

Depending on the extent of the surgery, recovery may take a few days. It may take up to 3 to 5 days to feel completely back to normal. Patients should refrain from activities that increase heart rate or blood pressure such as running, exercising, weight lifting, or other similar activities. It is imperative to obtain guidance from the surgeon as to when they may resume all normal activities. Until this time, patients should rest and limit physical exertion.

General instructions and follow-up care for sinus surgery

In many cases, packs or nasal packing is placed in the nose to control postoperative bleeding. The surgeon will tell the patient when to return to the office to have these packs removed. Patients may need to call the office to schedule this postoperative appointment. Please arrange for someone to drive the patient to and from the office for this first visit in case any complications (for example, additional bleeding) develop. Patients should eat a light meal before coming, and avoid taking excessive pain medications. In addition, most patients will also have several subsequent office visits scheduled to assess healing, remove crusts, and insure a speedy recovery. These visits are very important as the surgeon may use the endoscope (camera to look in the nose) to clean up the sinuses and perform further debridement if necessary. This post-operative surveillance by the surgeon is very crucial in the individual's long-term success with the surgery.

After the packing has been removed, individuals may breathe through their nose, but should not blow or sneeze through it for 7 to 10 days to reduce the chance of bleeding. If a person must sneeze, they should try to sneeze through an open mouth. Many surgeons tell patients to expect some light blood-tinged drainage from the nose for several days. If bleeding becomes excessive, apply an ice-pack (described previously) and rest quietly with head elevated while applying mild to moderate pressure to the nose. If bleeding continues, call the doctor's office.

One of the most important things patients can do after surgery is nasal irrigation. Immediately after the nasal packs are removed patients should use a saline nasal spray such as "Ocean Spray" several times per day to prevent crusts from forming in the nose. The surgeon will tell patients when to discontinue the nasal spray and will also let them know the best way to irrigate the sinuses.

Patients should go back to work or school only when the doctor says you can and should plan on resting for several days following surgery. Avoid excessive talking, smiling, hard chewing, strenuous activities, and lifting heavy objects, bumping the nose, and bending over. Try not to rest eye glasses on the bridge of the nose until soreness and swelling subside. People may wear contact lenses once eye swelling and any eye irritation has resolved. Alcohol and tobacco should be avoided because they may prolong swelling and healing. Smoke, dust, and fumes may irritate the nose and cause an infection. In general, people may use usual make-up any time after surgery, as long as the structures (for example, eyelids) with make-up are relatively normal and are not irritated by the application of make-up. Be gentle while brushing the upper teeth. They will often be tender for several weeks, and some people may have some numbness of the teeth and palate for several months.

Patients should plan to remain in the general area where the surgery was performed for 3 weeks to allow for postoperative care and in case bleeding occurs, the patient can be seen by the surgeon that did the procedure and who should best be able to treat the patient.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/29/2016

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