A balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive—yet highly effective—treatment option for chronic sinusitis or sinus infections.
If you struggle with either of these conditions or even consistent congestion, you may be an ideal candidate for balloon sinuplasty in Irvine, CA. Keep reading to learn more about who is eligible for this minimally invasive procedure.
Constant congestion, facial pressure, and headaches can affect everything, from your sleeping habits to your ability to concentrate. Not to mention, it can be frustrating when sinusitis or sinus infection medications don’t work and these symptoms keep returning.
Chronic sinusitis, characterized by persistent headaches, facial pressure, and nasal blockage is often the result of repeat sinus infections that become resistant to standard treatment interventions. Regardless of how often or severe symptoms present, most individuals agree, without proper treatment, they can be incredibly challenging to manage and live with.
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.
A deviated septum occurs when the wall of cartilage and bone within the nose is crooked. Consistent nasal obstruction can affect everything from your ability to get a good night’s sleep to your overall well-being. While you may blame chronic congestion, allergies, or a persistent cold, it could be an underlying issue like a deviated septum.
Keep reading to discover what a deviated septum is and when to seek medical attention for your symptoms.
I. What is a Deviated Septum?
The nasal septum is the thin cartilage and bone wall separating the nostrils. Although the wall should evenly divide the nasal airways, it often leans (or deviates) to one side and creates asymmetrical passageways. This is called a deviated septum. A deviated septum is extremely common, affecting 70-80% of people. In many cases, the deviation is not too severe, and there is an absence of symptoms. Many individuals with the condition do not realize they have it.
A deviated septum is often caused by a blow to the face, car accidents, or sports injuries and can cause noticeable changes in one’s appearance and breathing. Deviations in the septum can also occur gradually as the cartilage shifts and bends with age and are common at birth. No matter how a deviated septum forms, it can interfere with the ability to sleep and breathe comfortably. Because a deviated septum doesn’t get better on its own, medical attention is often necessary to correct the defect and ease any severe symptoms.
II. Common Symptoms of a Deviated Septum
When a septum deviation becomes severe, blockages can develop in one or both sides of the nasal airways. This then causes difficulty breathing through the nose, especially when patients struggle with allergies or cold symptoms. For many, with increased nasal obstruction often comes a constant feeling of clogged sinuses, facial tenderness and pressure, headaches, and pain.
A displaced septum inhibits proper drainage causing the sinuses to become infected. People with a deviated septum often experience chronic or recurring sinus infections, which only increase pain and discomfort. A misaligned septum can also snoring and interrupted breathing or sleep apnea. Patients may find they can only sleep on one side due to blockages or an extremely narrow nasal passage. Another symptom of a deviated septum is recurrent nosebleeds. The bent septum wall affects how air passes through the nose, causing the moist nasal passages to become dry, resulting in frequent nosebleeds.
III. Warning Signs That Indicate It’s Time to See a Doctor
Any of the symptoms mentioned above may cause enough discomfort for patients to seek medical attention. Persistent sinus infections, nosebleeds, and poor sleep can especially affect a person’s overall well-being and quality of life. If you know that you have a deviated septum and experience chronic infections or pain, reach out to an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Even if you don’t think you have a deviated septum but are still experiencing these symptoms, contact an ENT specialist. The septum wall can move or become more severe over time and cause breathing problems later in life, so it’s worth scheduling a consult.
Other warning signs include worsening or new symptoms, especially ones that interfere with your sleep schedule or affect your breathing. Nosebleeds that occur regularly or weekly are also signs that it’s time to seek medical attention.
Keep in mind that a deviated septum doesn’t go away on its own and may worsen over time. Patients with any symptoms that affect their quality of life should discuss treatment options with an ear, nose, and throat specialist.
IV. Diagnosis and Treatment
An ear, nose, and throat specialist can generally diagnose a deviated septum with a physical examination and a careful review of the patient’s medical history and symptoms. If needed, the specialist will apply a numbing spray and perform a simple fiberoptic nasal endoscopy. This diagnostic procedure involves inserting a thin tube with a light into the nasal passageway for better visibility. Mild symptoms from a deviated septum can be treated at home with decongestants, saline rinses, and antihistamines. However, these only temporarily relieve symptoms and can change the shape of the septum wall or widen the nasal passages.
Septoplasty, or deviated septum repair surgery is the most effective treatment option that provides long-term to permanent relief. Many people pair this procedure with a rhinoplasty to fix the inside and outside of their nose in the same operation. Because septoplasty is a complex surgery that requires general anesthesia and significant recovery time, there is a minimally invasive treatment known as VivAer.
VivAer Treatment offers long-term relief by reducing nasal blockages and opening the nasal airways. The procedure requires no incisions and is performed as an outpatient ENT treatment. Nearly all VivAer Treatment patients experience vast nasal breathing improvement (97%) and better sleep (89%).
A deviated septum is much more common than many people realize. If you experience chronic nosebleeds, sinus infections, and congestion, consult with an ear, nose, and throat specialist to learn if you have a deviated septum and if you are a good candidate for VivAer Treatment.
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.