Definition: A balloon sinuplasty is a quick, minimally invasive procedure to alleviate chronic sinusitis.
Living with chronic sinusitis can be uncomfortable, with consistent facial pressure and headaches. If you have sinusitis that hasn’t responded to traditional medications over the past few months or years, you may feel frustrated and exhausted from the ongoing symptoms.
The good news is that you have treatment options. If you want relief from sinusitis symptoms without undergoing complex surgery, a balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA, can help.
Keep reading to learn what a balloon sinuplasty is and how it can alleviate your symptoms.
What is Balloon Sinuplasty?
A balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive treatment for ongoing sinusitis symptoms like headaches, congestion, facial pressure, and bad breath. It’s a simple, outpatient alternative to functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS), a complex procedure requiring general anesthesia and a hospital stay.
During a balloon sinuplasty, the ear, nose, and throat specialist inserts an endoscope with a balloon into the nose. They then inflate the balloon inside the sinus opening to expand it before flushing out the mucus.
This entire process occurs in the specialist’s office rather than a hospital operating room. The patient also receives local anesthesia, so they are awake the entire time.
Not only is a balloon sinuplasty less invasive than a FESS, but it also costs less money. Specialists don’t even make a single incision, which means the recovery time is extremely short and uncomplicated.
Frequently Asked Questions
Am I a candidate for balloon sinuplasty?
Patients with uncomplicated recurrent or chronic sinusitis are ideal candidates for balloon sinuplasty. Chronic sinusitis is a persistent sinus infection that doesn’t go away, while recurrent sinusitis occurs when patients have multiple (at least 4) cases within one year.
In both situations, patients experience persistent nasal congestion, headaches, and coughing that don’t respond to traditional medications. The only permanent solution is a procedure that alleviates the sinuses, like a FESS or a balloon sinuplasty.
Since balloon sinuplasty is minimally invasive, the procedure isn’t ideal for patients with deviated septums, enlarged nasal cavities, or nasal polyps. The FESS is the best option in those cases, despite being a more complex procedure.
If the patient has none of those complex conditions yet still struggles with chronic sinusitis, balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA, is an excellent treatment option.
What can I expect during the procedure?
While a FESS uses medical instruments to physically enlarge sinus openings and remove any trapped tissue or move, a balloon sinuplasty takes a much simpler approach.
The ear, nose, and throat specialist starts by applying a topical decongestant to clear some of the nasal passageways. They then apply local anesthesia via an anesthetic spray, cotton pads in the nose, and a nasal injection.
Once the area is sufficiently numb, the specialist inserts a catheter into the nasal passage with the help of an endoscope (a long, thin tube with a light). They then use that catheter to insert a small balloon into the sinus cavity, which is inflated to open and alleviate the sinuses. The final step is flushing out the sinuses before removing the catheter.
Since the specialist only uses local anesthesia, the patient can go home that same day.
Is balloon sinuplasty safe?
Yes, balloon sinuplasty is safe. It also produces consistently effective and long-lasting results. One of the most recent NIH reports on balloon sinuplasty efficiency shows consistently high success rates (most above 90%) since the procedure was developed in the mid-2000s. The same study found that all balloon sinuplasty patients reported almost immediate symptom relief. Even in their one-year follow-up appointments, the patients reported being symptom-free.
Thanks to these lasting results, the percentage of repeat balloon sinuplasty is extremely low.
Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure, so patients don’t need general anesthesia, or a hospital stay. Instead, the procedure usually occurs within the specialist’s office, and the patient can return to their normal routine the following day.
How long does the procedure take?
A balloon sinuplasty takes considerably less time than the alternative traditional FESS procedure. A FESS can last anywhere between 2-4 hours in a traditional operating room with general anesthesia.
On the other hand, a balloon sinuplasty can take as little as 20 minutes right in the specialist’s office. The exact length may vary depending on the patient’s sinus anatomy and pre-existing conditions, but the entire process—from pre-treatment to post-op examination—generally takes 1-2 hours.
What is the recovery time?
Unlike a FESS, which can require a few months for complete recovery, balloon sinuplasty patients typically recover in 1-2 days. They can go home right after the procedure, ideally with a designated driver, and spend the next two days resting.
Patients can expect slight discomfort, congestion, and nosebleeds for a few days, but those should go away within the first week, if not sooner. For a quick recovery, patients should prioritize rest and avoid strenuous activity for at least a week. They can also take approved pain relievers for headaches and elevate their head while sleeping to help with congestion.
Will I need to take time off work?
Ideally, patients should take at least two days off work: one for the surgery and one for the recovery day. However, some balloon sinuplasty patients may need a few more days of rest, especially if they work in a physically demanding environment. Patients may also need to take a few extra days off if they experience common side effects, like headaches.
Since the time off may vary, patients should communicate with their employers and explain the situation. If able, patients should request a few extra days off just to ensure optimal recovery. Employers might be more willing to accommodate this as long as patients provide advance notice.
How long do the results of balloon sinuplasty last?
In the vast majority of cases, balloon sinuplasty results are permanent. The aforementioned NIH showed dramatic improvements within one week, then continued improvement during the following 6-12 months. Patients rarely need a repeat balloon sinuplasty since the results are long-lasting and effective.
That said, patients with more severe sinus issues may experience different results. They still typically experience vast improvement, but they might need a repeat balloon sinuplasty at some point in the future.
Alternative to Balloon Sinuplasty
Besides the FESS and balloon sinuplasty, there’s an at-home option for sinusitis relief: nasal irrigation. Just like how people brush and floss their teeth daily, a regular nasal flush can rinse out the sinuses and offer improved nasal ventilation.
Persistent nasal irrigation can reduce sinusitis and allergic rhinitis symptoms. While this is not a permanent solution like balloon sinuplasty, it can offer relief and promote clean, clear nasal passageways.
A balloon sinuplasty is often a favored treatment option for chronic sinusitis because of its simplicity. It offers a quick recovery time and permanent results—and can be done in the comfort of your specialist’s office.
If you have more questions about a balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA, make sure to discuss your options with an ear, nose, and throat specialist.