Living with chronic or recurrent sinusitis means dealing with regular headaches, facial pressure, and congestion—and not just for a few days, but for months or years on end. These symptoms can affect your ability to do regular activities, from getting a good night’s sleep to focusing on work.
If you are experiencing these symptoms and antibiotics aren’t helping, know that there is a treatment option that offers long-lasting relief. Balloon sinuplasty is a popular treatment option that can often occur right in your ENT specialist’s office.
But is balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA safe? Keep reading to find out.
Balloon Sinuplasty: The Procedure
Balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA, is a minimally invasive alternative to traditional functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS). Both procedures help treat chronic sinusitis, but FESS involves bone or tissue removal and general anesthesia, while balloon sinuplasty uses local anesthesia and no incisions.
During balloon sinuplasty, the ENT specialist applies a local anesthetic to numb the area while the patient remains awake. The surgeon then inserts a balloon catheter into the sinuses, guided by an endoscope. Once the catheter is complete in the sinus cavities, the specialist inflates the balloon to expand the passageways and allow for optimal draining. They often use a saline solution to help wash out all the trapped mucus and pus before removing the system.
This entire process takes less than 45 minutes—or about two hours, including procedural preparation and post-op evaluation. Patients can usually go home right away and resume their regular routines in a day or two.
Compared to a FESS, a balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA, is much simpler. There are much fewer risks since there’s no general anesthesia involved, and patients experience immediate relief. Plus, the recovery process takes days rather than weeks, making it a popular option for sinusitis treatment.
How Safe Is Balloon Sinuplasty?
While any type of procedure can result in potential complications, balloon sinuplasty presents minimal risks. One main reason for this is the use of local rather than general anesthesia. According to the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA), general anesthesia can result in serious complications, like postoperative delirium and malignant hyperthermia. On the contrary, ASA states that local anesthesia is the safest type of sedation. Patients rarely experience side effects—and if they do, the symptoms are only slight itching or pain.
Anesthesia aside, the balloon sinuplasty procedure is extremely safe—especially compared to the traditional FESS. A 2018 study compared the risk profiles of both procedures and found that balloon sinuplasty is presented a 5.26% risk rate, compared to 7.35% for FESS. The report also stated that the revision rate for FESS is more than double that of a balloon sinuplasty, meaning that the latter is much more effective.
Benefits of Balloon Sinuplasty
As mentioned above, the main benefits of balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA, include low risks, local anesthesia, and quick recovery time. There’s also no bruising, external stints, or other visible signs of the surgery since everything happens internally, so people can go right back to their regular work schedule and social activities.
Another benefit—and cause for the quick recovery time—is that balloon sinuplasty does not alter or change the natural nasal structures. The traditional FESS removes or adjusts bone and tissue to open up the sinuses, which permanently changes the nose’s internal structure. As a result, patients often experience more nasal bleeding and a longer recovery. A balloon sinuplasty, however, just uses the balloon catheter to gently widen the sinuses to relieve inflammation, blockage, and sinusitis.
Patient Selection and Precautions
The ideal candidate for a balloon sinuplasty is someone who has chronic or recurrent sinusitis that doesn’t respond to antibiotics. They usually have more severe and persistent symptoms that affect their quality of life, like headaches, nasal blockage, facial congestion, and dental pain.
Since balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, there are a few reasons to disqualify a patient with chronic sinusitis. Still, a patient should discuss their complete medical history with the ENT specialist to see if there are any contraindications—such as cystic fibrosis or eosinophilic disease—that would make them ineligible for the procedure.
More severe sinus issues may also need alternative treatments. For example, patients with severe polyposis, facial trauma, or a deviated septum may need other, more complex procedures. That’s why surgeons complete a full physical examination—and often nasal endoscopies or imaging—before scheduling a balloon sinuplasty.
Balloon Sinuplasty in Irvine, CA: Potential Risks and Complications
Although balloon sinuplasty is incredibly safe, there are some minor risks. These are typically divided into three categories: general, procedural, and patient-specific risks.
The most common complication with any procedure is infection, which usually results from poor post-op hygiene. If patients use a sinus rinse after the procedure (usually starting 2-3 days post-op), they can help wash out any bacteria and avoid infection.
Another typical risk with facial and sinus surgeries is nasal bleeding. Some light discharge and bleeding are completely normal, but they should stop within the first 24 hours. Bleeding that continues past that point can signal more serious complications.
Although balloon sinuplasty offers lasting results, there is a possibility that it doesn’t completely resolve the patient’s sinusitis. However, that possibility is extremely low. Various studies show the procedure has an efficacy rate of 90%.
The balloon sinuplasty procedure itself presents very few risks since there are no incisions, cuts, or tissue removal. The few risks that do exist are divided fairly evenly between patient-related and device-related issues.
Patient-related procedural risks include excessive bleeding and eye swelling. There’s also the possibility of a cerebrospinal fluid leak if the endoscopic tube accidentally pokes a hole in the tissue surrounding the brain. Device-related risks refer to equipment errors. For example, the catheter might malfunction or go into the wrong cavity during insertion.
Most procedural risks can be avoided by choosing a certified ENT specialist that has years of experience with sinus procedures.
Some patients may be at greater risk than others. For example, people with allergies to latex, metals, and even anesthesia may have adverse reactions during the procedure. Those with underlying conditions like diabetes and heart disease are also at a higher risk, particularly for anesthesia complications.
Patients can easily avoid or lessen these risks by choosing an experienced ENT specialist and sharing their complete medical history during the initial consultation.
Overall, balloon sinuplasty is an extremely safe procedure with minimal risks. And some of those risks can be eliminated or reduced just by choosing an experienced ENT surgeon.
If you’re considering a balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA, for lasting relief, set up an initial consultation with an ENT specialist. Make sure to discuss any allergies, contraindications, and general concerns to reduce potential complications and establish realistic expectations.