When Sinus Surgery Doesn’t Help

Is Sinus Surgery a Cure?

The unfortunate truth is that sinus surgery does not cure sinusitis. In fact, sinus surgery is only intended to widen the openings of the sinus cavities—the ostia—to allow the sinuses to drain.

This drainage means that the bacteria that were previously getting trapped in the sinuses, and causing the sinusitis, can now drain out through the nose, or into the stomach where they will be neutralized by stomach acid. In theory, this drainage, then, should allow the sinuses to heal—but the surgery doesn’t cure the sinusitis.

Sinus surgery can be ineffective, or even make sinusitis worse.

man with sinusitisPatients who have received surgery from inexperienced surgeons may suffer from a number of problems—perhaps most commonly a retained uncinate. The uncinate process projects from the ethmoid bone, which houses the ethmoid sinuses. If it is scarred, or not properly removed during surgery, it can become a site of persistent inflammation. This persistent inflammation leads to persistent sinusitis—precisely the condition the surgery was intended to alleviate. Conversely, patients who have had too much tissue removed can suffer from empty nose syndrome. It may sound like a silly problem to someone whose nose is chronically plugged, but the symptoms can include:

  • Dryness
  • Bleeding
  • Lack of sense of smell
  • Crusting
  • Dizziness

Many sufferers also become preoccupied with the sensation of having too much air flowing through the nose. If you have had sinus surgery, but still suffer from sinus pain, congestion, or sinusitis, it may be that your surgery did not address the root of your sinus troubles. There may be other factors that cause your problems.

Have you:

  • Been treated for allergies? Sinusitis and polyps can develop from untreated allergies.
  • Examined your diet? Many people are symptomatic because of acid reflux, which can come up and irritate the nasal cavity.
  • Had a complete medical work-up? Immune deficiencies can cause recurrent infection.
  • Ruled out headaches? Some headaches and migraines can feel sinus-related even when they’re not.

If any of these is the underlying cause of your symptoms, sinus surgery simply won’t resolve your concerns. The good news is that these problems are treatable, and we can help you find the proper treatment. At the New York Sinus Center, many of our physicians specialize in revision surgery—and we can help alleviate your discomfort. Give us a call.

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