How Balloon Sinuplasty is Performed
A flexible balloon catheter (a long catheter with an inflatable balloon on the tip) is inserted through the nose and to the opening of the sinus. The balloon is slowly inflated, which allows the nasal passages to drain normally, relieving sinus pain and pressure. The balloon catheter is then removed, leaving the sinuses cleared of mucus and facilitating normal drainage. There is little to no disruption to the mucosal lining of the sinuses.
While use of any surgical instrument involves some risk, the Balloon Sinuplasty™ technology is minimally invasive and has been clinically demonstrated to be safe by leading ear, nose and throat doctors around the world. Furthermore, balloon catheter technology has been used successfully in other medical procedures such as balloon angioplasty for the heart. Side effects are rare, and the complication rate is low. However, as is true with any type of medical intervention, there are some potential risks and complications with balloon sinus dilation, including damage to tissue and mucus around the infected area, injury to the eyes and brain, post-operative bleeding, and allergic reaction to anesthesia or other medications administered during the procedure. In general, though, the risks involved with Balloon Sinuplasty™ are much lower than with functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), and the majority of Balloon Sinuplasty™ patients report significant improvement in their symptoms with no adverse effects.
The Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty
The number one advantage to Balloon Sinuplasty™ is that it’s less invasive than traditional sinus surgery. Sinus tissue is not cut and removed, but rather, simply widened. This results in less trauma to the general sinus area, reducing post-operative pain, scarring, bleeding and overall recovery time.
Compared to traditional functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), Balloon Sinuplasty™ is truly a breakthrough procedure. FESS was the standard surgical option since the 1980s. Using cutting instruments, FESS removes bone and tissue to enlarge sinus openings, clearing blocked nasal passages and restoring normal sinus drainage. The procedure is performed in the operating room with general anesthesia, and normally takes 2 to 4 hours. Of course, not everyone wants the stress and hassle of a hospital operating room procedure, nor does a long recovery period appeal to most people. With FESS, recovery following the operation is usually 1 to 2 weeks, with very limited activity during that period.FESS is performed using general anesthesia in a hospital operating room. During the operation, a surgeon cuts and removes both tissue and bone. This can result in complications such as scarring, severe pain, blood loss and chance of infection, along with a 1 to 2 week recovery time. In 2005, a new a revolutionary, new treatment option became available: Balloon Sinuplasty™. This is a minimally invasive, outpatient procedure which utilizes small, flexible balloons to open blocked sinuses. Balloon Sinuplasty™ is performed in our medical office, usually under local anesthesia.
Clinical research has indicated that the Balloon Sinuplasty™ system is safe and effective, delivering immediate relief to sinusitis sufferers. Many report instantly being able to breathe ‘normally’ for the first time in years! For those with progressive disease, this procedure does not limit future treatment options.
Recovery from Balloon Sinuplasty
While the recovery period varies for each person, most people are able to return to normal activities within 24 hours following Balloon Sinuplasty™. This makes it a good option for those with relatively minor sinus issues, who have busy schedules and wish to get back to their normal, daily lives as soon as possible. This procedure is also recommended for people who are adverse to surgery in general, or those with a history of complications with general anesthesia.
Do patients have to stay in the hospital overnight after the Balloon Sinuplasty™ procedure?
No, Balloon Sinuplasty™ is an outpatient procedure, which is usually done using local anesthesia, so you are not required to stay in the hospital overnight. Most patients are capable of driving themselves home within 15 to 30 minutes after undergoing the procedure, or shortly after the effects of the anesthesia wears off.
How long does it take to recover from Balloon Sinuplasty™?
Because the Balloon Sinuplasty™ system is minimally invasive and no bone or tissue is removed, most patients are able to return to their normal activities fairly quickly. While recovery time varies from person to person, many people can return to normal activities (including work) within 24 to 48 hours following surgery. We do advise our patients to avoid strenuous activities or exercise that makes them feel strained (aerobics, jogging, exercising, swimming, contact sports, etc.) during the two weeks after the procedure. However, moderate exercise (such as brisk walking) is fine during the recovery period.
Will there be much bleeding or pain afterwards?
Most patients will have some bloody nasal drainage the first night following surgery. This discharge will decrease in amount and turn lighter in color over the next several days after surgery. In order to prevent bleeding, you should not blow your nose for the first week after surgery, but rather sniff back any secretions. If you need to sneeze, you should do so with your mouth open. Do not hold back a sneeze.
Patients may also experience a slight sinus headache or nasal congestion for a day or two after the procedure. This can be easily managed with over-the counter analgesics (such as an ibuprofen-based painkiller like Tylenol or Excedrin), or a prescribed pain killer, if needed. (Do not take aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory pain relievers such as Advil, Motrin and Aleve, as they may increase chances of bleeding.)
Will nasal packing be necessary after the procedure?
While light bleeding after any nasal procedure can be expected, with Balloon Sinuplasty™ patients rarely need to have their noses packed with gauze following the procedure. That is good news for patients, since nasal packing can be extremely uncomfortable.
How long does symptom relief last after Balloon Sinuplasty™?
Numerous studies have shown that the benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty™ last for at least two years in the vast majority of patients, which is as good or better than what’s achieved with conventional sinus surgeries. Exactly how long your sinuses stay open depends on the extent of your sinus disease and other factors regarding your personal health status. In general, though, we have every reason to expect that the improvement is permanent.
Will surgery with Balloon Sinuplasty™ devices limit my treatment options?
No. Balloon Sinuplasty™ devices are endoscopic tools used within FESS and may be used with other medical therapies as well. They do not limit future treatment options for patients with progressive disease.
Does alcohol consumption or smoking affect recovery?
Alcohol is a potent vessel dilator and can promote edema or swelling and even bleeding. We advise patients to abstain from heavy drinking for one week prior to surgery and avoid any alcohol intake the week after surgery. We also discourage patients from smoking during the month before and after the procedure, as smoking can severely affect the outcome. Smoking causes increased scar tissue, poor healing and greater risk of complications.
Skills and expertise you can count on
You don’t have to just live with chronic sinusitis for the rest of your life. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Gupta today to find out if Balloon Sinuplasty™ is the right option for you. You can book your appointment by calling us at (919) 230-8837, or by filling out our online contact form. We look forward to providing you relief from your sinus symptoms! If you have been diagnosed with chronic sinusitis and are not responding well to medications , you may be a candidate for Balloon Sinuplasty™. As is true when using any surgical instrument, there are some potential risks, and results may vary. To find out if this procedure is right for you, contact us today to make an appointment with Dr. Gupta for an evaluation. Take our sinus quiz to see if you qualify.