Sinus Surgery Recovery

Most patients’ sinus symptoms improve substantially following sinus surgery, but the healing process does take time. Although some patients experience significant improvement immediately the procedure, others still feel the aftereffects of the surgery weeks later. It depends on several factors, including the type of surgery, what was done during surgery and factors specific to the patient.

Immediately After Surgery

Sinus surgery can be performed under either local anesthesia or general anesthesia. If your procedure is performed under general anesthesia it will take a couple of hours for you to fully regain alertness. Regardless of which type of anesthesia is used, you will need to remain at the surgical facility for a few hours before being cleared to go home. During this time you may feel woozy, you might experience mild pain and you may notice some swelling and congestion.

You will need to arrange for a friend or family member to drive you home from the surgical facility. You will also need to arrange for a responsible adult to stay with you and monitor you the first night after your surgery, just in case any postoperative complications arise.

sinus surgery recovery before and after male patient photo

After Effects of the Surgery

In the days and weeks after your surgery you should expect some swelling and nasal congestion. During this time there will be some bloody discharge; this is normal and will improve with each passing day.
Some patients experience minor pain and discomfort following surgery, while others can have more substantial pain for a period of days. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medication if necessary.

Many patients feel fatigued in the days and weeks following surgery. It is important to rest and avoid overexerting yourself while you are recovering.

What to Do and What to Avoid

When you get home from the surgical facility, you should go to bed and keep your head elevated on a couple of pillows, which will reduce swelling.

You can also reduce swelling, pain and edema by placing an ice-pack on your nasal bridge and other swollen areas of your face.

During the first few days of recovery you can get out of bed (preferably with help) to go to the bathroom, but you should not strain with bowel movements as doing so may lead to bleeding around the surgical site. If you experience constipation you can take a gentle laxative or stool softener.

Following surgery it is very important that you keep your nose free from crusts as much as possible. Your surgeon will give you instructions to follow but some of this may have to be performed by the surgeon.

Avoid blowing your nose for around one week after surgery. As your sinuses recovery their ability to drain properly, you can begin to blow out some of the mucus, but be sure to follow your surgeon’s instructions.

Before surgery, make sure to purchase gauze pads which will be used to absorb blood during your recovery. You will likely need to use the dressings for a few days, changing them hourly for the first 24 hours. Make sure to avoid taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (e.g., ibuprofen, Naprosyn, etc.) as well as aspirin and medications that contain aspirin until your surgeon tells you it is OK, because these medications can exacerbate bleeding and get in the way of clotting at the surgical site.

It is extremely important that you take your recovery seriously, following your surgeon’s postoperative instructions closely in order to make sure you are healing correctly and minimizing the risk of complications.

How Long Do Recovery and Symptoms Last?

You should be back to normal within a couple of months. If you have experience significant inflammation or nasal polyps, it may be necessary to take a course of steroid medication along with antibiotics to speed up your postoperative recovery. In addition, topical steroids will be prescribed if polyps were excised during surgery.

Follow-up visits will need to be scheduled for one day and a week following surgery. You also will need to visit your doctor each week thereafter until you are fully healed; this should take about four weeks but could take longer. At your follow-up visits, your surgeon will address any inflammation and, if necessary, will perform scar tissue removal under local anesthesia.