How is sinus surgery different from nose surgery?

Nose surgery such as fixing a deviated septum, making turbinates smaller, or opening the nasal valves assists with the nasal passage and improves breathing and airflow. This will not cure nasal allergies but by making the turbinates smaller, this may lessen the severity of nasal allergy attacks. It is important to understand that nasal surgery is completely different than sinus surgery.

Patients with chronic sinusitis are those that may have repeated sinus infections with facial pain, congestion, and headache. This is different than just not being able to breathe through your nose due to a deviated septum. Sinus infections may occur anywhere from 3-10 times per year and frequently require antibiotics. In between sinus infections there may still be some underlying symptoms of sinusitis. The sinuses are like a room that produces mucus. This mucus then needs to exit this “room” through a “doorway” that leads to a “hallway”. The “hallway” would be the nasal passage or airway. There mucus can either be blown out or moved back to be swallowed. If the “doorway” is too tight, thick mucus may not be able to exit into the nasal passage and accumulate in the sinus. This festers and grow bacteria which then leads to a sinus infection. These are the patients that may be candidates for sinus surgery.

With sinus surgery or endoscopic sinus surgery, the “doorway” is widened to allow easier passage of the mucus. This can be done with balloon sinuplasty or tradition endoscopic sinus surgery. With balloon sinuplasty, the small fragile bones of the opening are fractured and the opening is slightly widened. With traditional endoscopic sinus surgery, the bones are taken down and removed to permanently widen the opening between the sinus and the nasal passage.

Dr. Funk is a nose surgery expert in Houston, TX

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