If you’re struggling with sinus problems and thinking about undergoing sinus surgery, you are not alone. According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, one of the world’s foremost medical research centers and an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, more than 250,000 sinus operations are performed every year in America.
It is also worth noting that functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), one of the most commonly performed surgeries to help those struggling with sinus problems, has a success rate of 80 to 90 percent. Other sinus surgeries, such as balloon sinuplasty and image-guided surgery, also have high success rates as well.
Most physicians, including Dr. Mark Glasgold, a New Jersey-based cosmetic surgeon who specializes in rhinoplasty, will agree that sinus surgery is not only safe but also an effective way to restore breathing function. Despite the safety, efficacy, and the high success rate associated with these surgical procedures, there is a downside in that most patients will struggle with post-surgery congestion due to nasal packing.
WHAT IS NASAL PACKING?
While it may not always be necessary, some surgeons will place a gauze-like material into the nasal cavity to round out your sinus surgery procedure, which is commonly referred to as nasal packing. The benefit of nasal packing is that the gauze-like material helps quickly absorb blood, mucus, and other fluids that form in the nasal cavity immediately after surgery. However, the downside is that the materials used to pack the nasal cavity can cause some of the same breathing problems that motivate individuals to undergo surgery in the first place. Depending on the materials used, they will either be absorbed by the body naturally or will have to be removed by the surgeon during your post-operative follow-up appointment. Once the nasal packing has been removed, you will be well on your way to enjoying unobstructed breathing.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT NASAL PACKING
In most cases, surgeons will opt for bioresorbable materials when packing the nasal cavity, which is absorbed by the body naturally and are usually better tolerated by patients; however, there are few things worth noting when it comes to bioresorbable nasal packing. It generally takes about 2 weeks before these materials to dissolve, which means you will experience some congestion during this time. The same applies to standard gauze-like material that has to be removed by your surgeon.
HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR NOSE AND SINUSES AFTER SURGERY
While dealing with nasal congestion is frustrating, you should always follow the recommendations outlined by your physician for caring for your nose and sinuses after undergoing surgery. Some of the most common recommendations include
Keep your head elevated
You should try to keep your head elevated as much as possible for the first few days following surgery, which will help keep bleeding and swelling to a minimum. After all, if the tissue in the nasal cavity becomes inflamed or if too much blood starts to fill the nasal cavity, it can make breathing even more difficult.
Avoid picking your nose
Picking your nose can irritate the delicate tissue in your nasal cavity or cause the nasal packing material to become dislodged, both of which can increase the risk of infection and may even prolong healing.
Blowing your nose
While this can be difficult to avoid, you should do everything in your power to avoid blowing your nose for the first week following your surgery as the pressure involved can lead to excessive bleeding. Furthermore, doing so could also dislodge the nasal packing.
Similar to blowing your nose, the pressure from sneezing can lead to excessive bleeding and can also dislodge nasal packing material. If at all possible, you should try to sneeze while keeping your mouth open.
Avoid taking aspirin
Although you will naturally want to reach for aspirin to help ease any pain you might be experiencing after surgery, you should avoid doing so as it can lead to increased bleeding.
Along with these recommendations, it is also a good idea to avoid any strenuous activities, such as exercising or any heavy lifting, for example, for the first few weeks after undergoing sinus surgery, which will prevent excessive bleeding.
HOW TO RELIEVE NASAL CONGESTION CAUSED BY NASAL PACKING
Now that we have detailed some of the things that you should avoid doing after sinus surgery, let’s take a moment to focus on what you can do to relieve congestion caused by nasal packing:
Sinus rinse kits
One of the best ways to relieve congestion caused by nasal packing is by using a sinus rinse kit at least twice per day. These sinus irrigation kits are designed to help loosen and wash away dried blood, mucus, and other debris that can accumulate in the nasal cavity, which, in turn, makes breathing that much easier.
Nasal saline sprays
These sprays, which are available over-the-counter, can help soothe irritated tissue in the nasal cavity. For best results, you will want to use these products every 2 to 3 hours as needed or as recommended by your physician.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FEEL BETTER AFTER SINUS SURGERY?
Generally speaking, most people will start to breathe and feel better within 3 to 5 days following surgery, which is when the bioresorbable nasal packing starts dissolving. Further, the tissue in the nasal cavity will begin healing around this time as well. Of course, those who have received standard nasal packing will need to be seen by their physician to have the material removed before they will notice any significant improvements in their breathing.
Following the tips outlined in this article and the recommendations made by your physician will go a long way toward speeding up healing, minimizing the risk of infection, and relieving nasal congestion. To learn more about sinus surgery or caring for your sinuses after undergoing surgery, consider contacting the Glasgold Group today, a New Jersey-based cosmetic surgery facility that specializes in rhinoplasty and sinus surgery