Sinus problems can be both painful and irritating to experience. Whether people have a deviated septum, chronic sinusitis, or nasal polyps, all these issues can make it difficult to breathe, cause pain and swelling in the face, can reduce a person’s sense of smell, and can cause other problems. In some cases, a doctor might recommend sinus surgery to solve the problem if all other treatments fail to work. If your doctor has recommended sinus surgery, there are some steps you should take before and after the surgery is complete to ensure the best recovery possible. These actions are outlined below.
Days Before Surgery
Before the surgery, your physician will most likely prescribe a few medications for you. It’s important you follow his or her instructions and start the medications at the appropriate times. If you’re taking prescription medications now, inform your doctor of these prescriptions to ensure the drugs don’t conflict; this step is of particular importance if you tend to take your medicines in the morning, which could conflict with a morning surgery time. Pain medications will be prescribed to you, but you are also encouraged to take extra strength or regular acetaminophen instead of prescription pain drugs for mild pain or discomfort to prevent the prescription drugs from causing constipation and nausea, which they tend to do.
In addition, eliminate aspirin products 2 weeks before the surgery. Aspirin is a blood thinner, so taking this medication too close to a surgery date can be dangerous, as it may cause you to lose too much blood. Ibuprofen should also be stopped 5 days before surgery. Your doctor will also prescribe you an antibiotic, depending on your allergies. If you’re not allergic to most antibiotics, you should take your prescribed medication the night before the surgery.
Purchase a Neil Med® Rinse Kit or salt water rinse for after the surgery. Do so in advance so you don’t have to worry about finding one when you might be in pain or disoriented after the surgery. If you smoke, you should also stop smoking at least 3 weeks before the surgery date, and if you drink, you should abstain from heavy drinking for 2 weeks prior to surgery. Alcohol is a potent vessel dilator, so it can promote edema or swelling and worsen bleeding.
Last, while the surgery is an outpatient procedure, you will be a little disoriented after the surgery. Arrange for a ride home after the surgery from a trusted friend or family member.
Day of Surgery
Do not eat or drink anything after midnight the night before your surgery. An empty stomach will allow the anesthesiologist to put you to sleep safely. If your stomach is not empty the day of surgery, the procedure will be postponed for your safety. However, you can take medications prescribed for the heart, asthma, seizures, or high blood pressure the morning of surgery with a sip of water, and you can brush your teeth.
For the first 3 to 6 weeks after the surgery, you will experience some nasal stuffiness and crusting. However, many patients are back to work or school the week after the procedure.
1st Few Days After Surgery
Make sure for the first few days, you change the bandage under your nose as needed, if you were provided with one; discontinue the bandage when the drainage stops. Likewise, sleep with your upper body elevated to keep pressure off your head, use any pain or other medication as directed by your doctor, and drink plenty of fluids to prevent dry mouth. You may also want to use a humidifier beside the bed.
Beginning 1 to 2 days after surgery, use the salt water (saline) rinses to wash away any crust and surgical debris. The saline rinse bottle can be used to squirt the solution into your nose a few times a day. Afrin or Neosynephrine (nasal decongestant sprays) can open the nasal passage and can be used just before rinsing with salt water to make the process easier. Your doctor might recommend you use a nasal steroid spray 15 to 30 minutes after using the salt-water rinse.
To control any nasal bleeding, an ice pack can be applied to the nose and cheeks. Sit up, tilt your head forward, and breathe gently through your nose. Do not snort the blood through your nose because this will encourage more bleeding. If the bleeding continues, you can use Afrin or Neosynephrine sparingly every 6 to 8 hours for 1 to 2 days.
1st Few Weeks After Surgery
Throughout your recovery, you will need several visits to the doctor to remove old blood and mucus. Any persistent inflammation or scar tissue found during these visits will be removed by your doctor after he or she sprays a topical anesthetic into the nose. Because this process is uncomfortable, you should take a dose of your prescribed pain relief medication immediately before the visits. You will likely need a ride to your 1st postoperative appointment.
For a few weeks, you will have thick, discolored drainage from your nose as your sinuses begin to clear themselves. This is a normal part of the healing process and does not indicate an infection. During this time, you should do your best to take it easy and avoid straining, bending, and exercise for at least a week. Avoid vigorous activities until you have healed completely, usually in about 2 weeks.
If you have to cough or sneeze, do so with your mouth open, to prevent strain in the nasal area. Likewise, avoid blowing your nose during the first week. If you have congestion during that time, stiff gently and spit into a tissue. Additionally, avoid hot, spicy foods until your recovery is complete and avoid drinking through a straw, both of which can cause issues with your sinuses.
If you get severe diarrhea from antibiotic usage, this can be a sign of a serious medical problem. Stop taking the antibiotic if this happens and contact your doctor immediately. Likewise, you should contact your doctor if you are bleeding excessively; you have clear, watery drainage from your nose; or you have decreased or double vision, swelling of the eyes, a stiff neck, or extreme fatigue. Signs of infection include fever, yellow-green drainage, unrelieved headache, and increased pain; contact your doctor immediately if you suspect you may have an infection.
If you’re having severe sinus issues, make an appointment with our leading Otolaryngologist Head and Neck Surgeon, Dr. Lee M. Mandel, MD, FACS. Our skilled Ft. Lauderdale sinus treatment physician is highly trained and experienced in various types of sinus surgeries. South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center, Inc. can offer you the most advanced, cutting-edge equipment and techniques, so our patients get outstanding results. Let us see what we can do for you in a consultation.