Sinus Surgery Recovery
One of the first things patients ask about when thinking about sinus surgery is whether the recovery is going to be awful. Patients who had sinus surgery in the past often described a miserable experience. After hearing about these types of experiences, many patients are understandably reluctant to have any sort of nasal surgery.
Thankfully, a lot of progress has been made in the way sinus surgery is performed. These days, the recovery process is usually much smoother for a few different reasons. First, we do not routinely use nasal or sinus packing at the time of surgery. In addition, the types of procedures performed these days are much less invasive than what might have been done in the past. Of course, there is a recovery period after any surgery. But many of our patients are pleasantly surprised that recovery is nothing close to the miserable experience described by family members or friends who had surgery 10 or 20 years ago.
It is very important to take good care of your nose after surgery. This is what will allow your body to heal properly after surgery.
These are the instructions we give our patients after nasal and sinus surgery with Dr. Goyal. If you are having surgery with a different practice and surgeon, please check with your doctor to see which instructions they would like you to follow.
What to expect immediately after surgery:
- Bleeding: It is normal to experience some bleeding during the first few days after surgery. You may use tissues or gauze under your nose to catch the drainage. You can expect to change the gauze frequently for the first 1 – 2 days. Some patients may need to change the gauze as frequently as every 30 minutes the night of the surgery. You may dab your nose gently with tissue, but do not blow your nose. If you have persistent heavy bleeding, please call our office.
- Stuffiness: Your nose will feel very stuffy and obstructed during your first postoperative week.
- Fatigue: You will feel very fatigued, sometimes for as long as a couple of weeks after surgery. It is best to take this time to rest as much as you need.
- Pain: Most patients do not have severe pain after sinus surgery. But remember that everyone is different and some patients may have more significant pain. Most of our patients do not need any prescription pain medicine. Most use plain Tylenol for pain control.
What to do after surgery:
- Pain medicine: Most of our patients find that their pain is well controlled with over-the-counter Tylenol. Do not use aspirin or aspirin related products (Motrin, Advil, Aleve, etc.) because these medications can increase your risk of bleeding. If you have severe discomfort that is not controlled by Tylenol, please call us at 315-254-2030 so that we can find a better option for you.
- Other medications: Dr. Goyal will let you know if you need other prescriptions after surgery. Most of our patients do not need any prescriptions after surgery.
- Saline rinse: Start using the saline rinse the morning after surgery to irrigate your nose twice a day (with the NeilMed Sinus Rinse kit). You can pick up refills of the salt over the counter at local drug stores or directly from the NeilMed company itself. These irrigations will allow you to clear your nose and sinuses of clots, crusts, and other debris. Try to use the irrigations at least four times a day, but you may certainly use it more often. More information about using the rinse is available on our page about sinus rinses. You can also watch a video on using the sinus rinse.
- Saline nasal spray: Using saline nasal sprays throughout the day can also help keep your nose moist. Use a spray like Ocean nasal spray or Ayr nasal spray (or a generic saline spray available over the counter). You should use 2 – 3 sprays in each nostril every 1 – 2 hours throughout the day. Moisture is very important for proper healing.
- Activity: You should get plenty of rest after surgery. Straining, lifting, or pushing yourself too hard can increase the amount of bleeding from your nose. Please take time to rest.
- Returning to work or school: Most patients take 4-5 days off from work or school. It is fine to return to work or school if you are not having bleeding from your nose and your pain is well controlled. Some patients also find that they just don't have the energy to go back for a week or more after surgery. So, a lot depends on how you feel and how much you feel like you can do. When you do return, it is important to stay on light duty at work.
The first week:
- Do not blow your nose. The best way to clear your nose is to use the saline rinse. If you need to sneeze, do not suppress it. Instead, sneeze with your mouth open.
- Do not perform any heavy activity. Avoid bending, straining, or lifting more than 15 pounds. Light walking and normal household activities are acceptable immediately after surgery. You may drive if you are not requiring narcotic medications.
- If you experience stomach upset from your antibiotics, active culture yogurt or acidophilus tablets (available at health food stores) on a daily basis may help. If you develop diarrhea, stop your antibiotics and contact our office. Persistent diarrhea may require further medical evaluation.
Beyond the first week:
You will have frequent return visits to our office. At each visit, we will look in your nose with the endoscope to ensure the nose and sinuses are healing properly. Often times, we will remove crusts, debris, and scar tissue during these visits. The first visit is typically 1-2 weeks after surgery. Some patients find it helpful to take a dose of pain medication about 45 minutes before their first postoperative appointment.
At any time:
Call our office if you experience any of the following:
- Any visual changes or marked swelling of the eyes
- Severe headache or neck stiffness
- Severe diarrhea
- Brisk bleeding
You can also visit our page listing Frequently Asked Questions about Nasal and Sinus Surgery.
If you have other questions about scheduling surgery, having surgery, or the recovery after surgery, please feel free to contact us. In addition to serving patients from the Syracuse, NY area, we treat patients from throughout the Upstate New York region. We treat many patients from Binghamton, Ithaca, Cortland, Utica, Rome, Auburn, Rochester, Buffalo, and Watertown. Our office is located just a few minutes from the major highways in Syracuse, making it easy for patients from all regions of Upstate New York to reach us.
If you are interested in having an evaluation at our office for your nasal and sinus issues, please contact us. You may request an appointment by calling, sending us a text message, or by requesting an appointment online. We are available by phone or text at 315-254-2030. Our office staff is available Monday – Friday, from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM.
Dr. Goyal has written several articles and book chapters on sinus problems and sinus surgery. Please see these links for more information:
- Information on our website about sinus surgery.
- Dr. Goyal's published papers related to sinus surgery are listed below:
- Goyal P, Hwang PH. In-Office Surgical Management of Sinus Disease: Office-Based Surgical Procedures in Rhinology. Operative Technique Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg. 17(1):58-65, March 2006.
- Goyal P, Leung M, Hwang PH. Endoscopic approach to the infratemporal fossa for the management of invasive fungal sinusitis. Am J Rhinol. 23(1):100-104, January 2009.
- Isaacs SJ* & Goyal P. The role of three dimensional computed tomography in defining frontal recess and frontal sinus anatomy. Am J Rhinol. 23(5):502-505, September/October 2009.
- Nelson JJ* & Goyal P. Temperature variations of nasal endoscopes. Laryngoscope. 121(2):273-278, February 2011.
- French C* & Goyal P. Submucosal Resection of the Middle Turbinate. Laryngoscope. 123(8):1845-1848, August 2013.
Dr. Goyal has written a book chapter about sinus surgery: