What to expect the first week after sinus surgery:
When you return home from sinus surgery, you will have drip gauze under your nose to collect drainage. For the first 24-48 hours, it is typical to have bloody drainage that may worsen with increased activity. You may change your drip gauze as often as you feel necessary. As long as you do not need to change the gauze every 15-20 minutes due to saturation, you are not bleeding too much. You may get rid of the gauze once the drainage stops. You are allowed to eat and drink anything you wish (nonalcoholic) after surgery. Some patients experience nausea, usually due to anesthesia, so you may want to eat lightly when you get home from surgery. You will not be able to breathe well out of your nose until the doctor sees you for your first follow-up visit. There is typically no swelling or bruising to the face, but inside your nose there will be a lot of swelling that causes a congested feeling.
We will be asking you to use a saline mist spray and sometimes do a nasal wash after surgery. There is no wrong way to do this – it may feel like the spray/wash just runs right out – and that is all right. The reason for the spray/wash is to keep the inside of your nose moist and to restart the normal cilia action of the nose. Most patients do not complain of “pain,” just a congestion/pressure feeling, like when you have a bad sinus infection. We will give you some pain medication, but most patients take just Tylenol/acetaminophen. Sleeping can sometimes be an issue because of the nasal congestion, so it may be helpful for you to elevate your head at night.
Your restrictions are:
- do not bend your head down
- do not lift anything over 15 pounds
- do not exercise, get overheated or do any strenuous activity
- do not blow your nose until your first office visit
You may return to work when you feel like it as long as your work does not require you to do any of the above restrictions.
What to expect at your first office visit:
The reason for your post-operative visits are to allow the physician to help your nose “clean itself” and to keep the passages open. You have not been able to blow and there will be a lot of mucus inside your nose that needs to be removed. One of the reasons for the nasal saline spray/wash is to keep the inside of your nose moist so that when the physician cleans the nose out, the scabs are not hard and attached to the lining of the nose. It makes for a much less painful debridement. Sometimes the first visit may cause some bleeding. If this occurs, go back to the above restrictions for a while. Sometimes the first visit may be uncomfortable. We usually do not recommend patients take their pain medication, but if you do take the pain medication make sure someone drives you to the visit. After these appointments you should begin to breathe more easily through your nose. Between appointments, you may notice on occasion some black, thick, dry, hard mucus from your nose. This is normal and will steadily improve over time.
What to expect long-term from your surgery:
The purpose of nasal and sinus surgery is to reestablish normal function of your nose and sinuses. You may still get an occasional sinus infection, but it will be easier to treat. You should breathe considerably better through your nose and many patients, particularly those with blockage due to nasal polyps, will experience an improved sense of smell. Although sinus surgery will not cure your allergies, in most cases allergy medications used after surgery will better control symptoms due to the ability of the sinuses to function in a more normal fashion.