The main goal of sinus surgery is to improve the drainage pathway of the sinuses. By widening the natural drainage pathway of the unhealthy sinuses, sinus infections should be reduced. Patients with obstruction or blockage of their sinuses due to their sinus anatomy do very well with sinus surgery. Many patients also have a problem with inflammation (swelling) of the sinus lining (mucous membrane). Patients with mucous membrane disease also usually improve with sinus surgery because creating the larger sinus opening will allow better sinus drainage and more rinses/medication to get into the sinuses and help treat the diseased lining. One of the most important benefits of surgery is the ability to deliver medications (sprays, rinses, nebulized drugs) to the lining of the sinuses after they have been opened.
Sinus surgery has truly evolved over the years. Sinus surgery was once performed through external incisions (surgical cuts on the face and in the mouth), required extensive nasal packing ( i.e. gauze or other material placed in the nose to control bleeding after surgery) , caused significant pain and discomfort, and was often followed by a long recovery period.
With recent advances in technology, including the nasal endoscope, sinus surgery is now commonly performed entirely through the nose, without face or mouth incisions. The nasal endoscope is a small, lighted metal telescope placed into the nostril. The endoscope allows the surgeon to see inside the nose and sinuses, usually with a special video camera attached to the endoscope. Today, endoscopic sinus surgery is typically done with minimal nasal packing, mild pain, and short recovery times.