My Sinus Surgery Recovery Experience

In General Health by Ian Izaguirre12 Comments

I was 21 years old when I finally decided to find a solution to my clogged sinuses. In the past, I used prescribed sprays, and over the counter solutions to find slight relief. Yet, I wanted to explore more permanent options. I decided to make an appointment with an Ears, Nose, and Throat Doctor. After a few scans and tests, surgery was proposed as an option.

Updated on 12/28/2016
Published on May 23, 2013

I documented my sinus surgery recovery experience for anyone who has to get a similar procedure or surgery done. This will allow them to get an idea of the entire process and recovery period.

I was constantly blowing my nose and felt stuffy all of the time. I finally made an appointment with an Ears, Nose, and Throat Doctor. As I had believed, there were a number of problems and the solution proposed was surgery. I was also given the option for an in office “Balloon Sinuplasty”, but I did not want to take the risk of it not being effective. At the time, it was a new procedure. I passed on the Balloon Sinuplasty and chose to go with the more “complete” surgery.

The following is a description of my proposed services, when I underwent surgery on May 22, 2013:

+ 30520- Septoplasty
+ 30140- Bilateral submucous resection of the inferior turbinates
+ 31256- Bilateral endoscopic maxillary antrostomy
+ 31276- Bilateral endoscopic frontal sinusotomy
+ 31287- Bilateral endoscopic sphenoidotomy
+ 61782- Navigation sinus surgery
+ Balloon sinuplasty

The morning of the surgery

I was told to be at the surgery center by 6:00 AM, so that morning I woke up at 5:00 AM. After I arrived, I was given a stack of 20 papers to initial in case an accident were to occur and this made me nervous.

The reality of what was moments away worried me, but I concentrated on my new “sinus free problem” life that was promised to me. As I was sitting down with my family, I finally heard my name called by the nurse. It was time to walk inside the operation room. When I sat down, the doctor asked me if I had drank any fluids.

As I told him I had drank a glass of water in the morning, a look of disappointment swept his face. I had forgotten I was not supposed to drink absolutely anything a few hours prior to the surgery. He told me they would have to now stick a tube down my throat to prevent complications. I was amazed how much of an issue my morning glass of water turned out to be.


The surgery starts

I went under general anesthesia. As it was being administered, I was asked to count down from 10. The anesthesia began to make me incredibly sleepy, so it was hard to keep my eyes open as I counted down. As my eyelids started to feel heavier, it became harder to keep them open. It suddenly felt as if I closed them for a few seconds, but when I opened them the surgery was over.

The hours the surgery took felt like a few seconds. When someone asks me to describe how general anesthesia feels, I always say that it feels as if someone turned off the lights then immediately flicked them back on. You lose all track of time.

The first things I noticed

When I awoke, I felt my face was very swollen. When I tried to speak, a horrible burning sensation rushed down my throat. I was surprised because it was more bothersome than any pain I felt coming from my nose. It was explained to me that this burning was due to being intubated by a tube that was pushed down my throat during surgery. Again, this was the consequence of me drinking a glass of water that morning as I was not supposed to have any fluids.

My nose had two thin pieces of absorbent gauze stuffed up each nostril. I was told they would be removed, along with a few stitches, during my follow-up visit two days later. I had a much larger blob of gauze taped over my entire nose, which covered the smaller gauze stuffed in each nostril. I was told that I would have to change this larger piece of gauze every few hours. The purpose of the larger piece of gauze was to absorb any random bleeding that was expected to leak throughout the recovery period.

The pain

On a pain scale of 1-10 (10 being the worst), the pain in my throat was an 8, and my nose was a 5. After the surgery, I was prescribed a painkiller and an antibiotic, which is probably why the pain coming from my nose was not as painful as I thought it would be.

Since my nose was filled and covered with gauze, I was only able to breathe through my mouth. This avoidance of using my nose also contributed to feeling the least amount of pain since it was allowed to heal without much irritation. I was not able to avoid using my throat since it would be constantly irritated every time I would speak, eat, and drink.


Sinus surgery recovery

After the surgery, I was under observation for an hour and a half, but in total, I was in the hospital from 6:00 AM till 1:30 PM. The doctor advised that I try to only breathe through my mouth, not my nose, during the first day of recovery.

Sleep horror

When I arrived back home, it was difficult to stay awake. I was in and out of sleep, due to the medications, anesthesia, and stress my body experienced from the multiple procedures.

I had to use a lot of pillows to prop myself in an upright position in bed. This was to avoid laying flat. I did not want to lay flat since that would cause any blood in my nostrils to build up. My nose had begun the expected discharges of blood which the large gauze was absorbing. This was a good thing since you want your body to start scabbing any open wounds inside of the nostrils. It just takes a lot longer than usual, since the nose is a naturally humid and wet environment.

Every few hours I would have to remove the medical tape that was holding the gauze onto my face, and replace it with a large clean piece. This was not painful, It was just a little shocking when I noticed the quantity of blood continually being absorbed by the gauze.

I had random jolts of pain while falling asleep as I would instinctually try to breathe through my nose. I would wake up with a feeling of suffocation, because of all the gauze blocking my nostrils. Then the feeling of pain from the surgery would arrive. It would take a few minutes to subside, and I would try to go back to sleep breathing only through my mouth again.


First follow-up visit

The worst pain I have ever experienced was during my first follow-up visit. I had to return, two days after my surgery, to get the two small gauzes I had stuffed in each nostril removed. The doctor sat me down and started removing some of the stitches in my nose. That pain was very bearable.

The worse pain was the removal of the individual small gauzes I had stuffed in each nostril. One by one, the doctor had to tug and wiggle them out. Since my nose nostrils had already started to heal, the natural scabbing process had already been underway.

As he wiggled them out, they were pretty stuck to the walls of my nose. Some of the gauze was attached from the scabbing process to my nostril. Afterward, I was given a spray to use on my nose every 30 minutes for the next two weeks to speed the healing process up. This special spray was to start nasal rinses twice a day after the packing was out. I no longer had any gauze inside my nostrils, but I still kept one large piece over my nose to prevent any blood dripping that was still occurring.

I had little to no pain after two weeks. I began to gradually try to breathe through my nostrils, as the bleeding had largely subsided by then. To be completely honest, another extremely shocking thing began.

Yes, this is gross

Since my nostrils were mostly scabbed up, I had no more free flowing blood dripping. But, any blood that was not able to previously flow naturally out also scabbed up. Instead of blood dripping, large quantities of dried hard pieces of blood began randomly discharging. Unlike the previous discharges of regular dripping blood, this time I was able to know when a discharge would occur. I would randomly feel a large amount of pressure building up in one of my nostrils.

I had checked with the doctor, and this was also a normal part of the healing process. I am talking about LARGE thick pieces. I was shocked, amazed, and scared but glad when they came out because I would instantly feel a large release of pressure that had built up in my nose. I was to continue using the spray I was given during my first follow-up visit. This spray was for nasal rinses, which would help any hard clots push out of my nose on their own if they were stuck. The doctor told me to not blow my nose.

A Few Months After The Surgery

I thought my sinus surgery recovery was going really well, because I had no side effects, and had no more congestion or pain. This was truly an amazing feeling. I felt so happy to know that this surgery had such successful results for me. I felt like I could breathe for the first time in my life. I finally had nothing obstructing my breathing and I no longer found myself short of breath.


Three years after the surgery

12/28/2016
I still believe this surgery was completely worth it and has benefited my life in a positive way.

> Have I maintained the same relief the surgery initially provided?

No, sadly I have not. I had expected some stuffiness to return because I might have minor allergies that are contributing to my congestion. I have not felt the same amount of congestion I had experienced prior to undergoing surgery. Therefore, I am satisfied with the outcome and would make the same choice again.
Side Effects

I have experienced two side effects. The first is some random occurrences of post nasal drip. The second is the side effect which concerns me the most. It is what I believe to be a spontaneous CSF leak (Read more about CSF leaks HERE). I would have to collect a sample for the doctor, to confirm my suspicions, because as of now this CSF leak is my own unreliable self-diagnosis. I guess that means my sinus surgery recovery is still progressing.

Ian Izaguirre

Hi, I'm Ian Izaguirre, I enjoy writing articles that educate and help support healthier lifestyles. My #1 goal is to make a positive impact in other people's lives.

Comments

  1. So glad your surgery went well! I am thinking of having the septoplasty surgery this Christmas break, but I am suppose to be running a half marathon on January 20. Do you think a month is enough recovery time to be able to run a half? I saw you were exercising about a week and a half after so I am wondering what you were able to do.

    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Nora, thank you for reading my post and for your kind words.

      I did begin exercising about a week and half after surgery BUT I soon stopped. What I did not know but soon learned was that your nose has delicate linings inside and after the surgery your nose is basically scarring up to heal itself but it takes a much longer amount of time to heal then a cut scaring up on your arm for example. This is because of its location. When you exercise or run you put a lot of pressure on your body from moving weight , to the pounding from running to how heavy you breath without realizing it. This pressure will slow or even reopen the healing scars in your nose. You will feel better a week after the surgery but I do not recommend you exercise for at least 4 weeks ( and since you need to train for the half-marathon that will mean you wont be able to train for it). Regardless if you exercise or not you will have rather large clots of dried mucus and blood discharge from your nose. I was not aware of this at first so it was rather shocking when it happened but it is a normal occurrence after 2 weeks from the surgery. Because I chose to not rest ( I ignored the doctors advice because I felt so great) and begin exercising I slowed my healing time and prolonged the length of time of healing so I was having these discharges from my nose a little longer and more frequent then normal. This is why I do not recommend you exercise even though you will feel amazing a week and a half after surgery. Don’t exercise for about a month and let your body heal even though it will be tempting ( it will just take longer to feel 110%) .

  2. Glad your surgery went well. I have just had sinus surgery two days ago and feel very congested. I have been told this could take at least two weeks to improve. I also had nasal polyps removed. Along with the usual symptoms associated with sinus issues i also suffered with a loss of smell and reduction in taste. Did you have this problem and if so did you regain these senses after surgery. I would really look forward to experiencing smells again.

    Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Susan, thank you for taking the time to read my post and leave a comment – I really appreciate that.

      I am glad to read that you are on your way to recovery and I hope your surgery went well. I experienced the same amount of heavy congestion. The congestion will go down as the weeks pass by. Just remember to follow your doctors advice and do not exercise or try to blow your nose even though it is very tempting and at times frustrating ( you want to avoid causing pressure in your nose). The congestion is caused by the amount of dried blood in your nose and this is normal. After around 2 weeks from your surgery your doctor will give you instructions on squirting some Saline Nasal Spray; and in addition to that some Saline Nasal Spray mixed with medicine . By doing this religiously ( around 5 times a day or more for the spray without medicine and around 2 times for the spray with medicine) your taste should come back gradually. Remember that patience is key for recovering from this surgery as the swelling of the tissues after surgery takes rather longer to go down.

      A rough guide for a simple septoplasty is about a month at which time you should be breathing pretty well though with more time it will further. If you had additional procedures this recovery period might take a little longer but nevertheless as the weeks pass by you will be feeling better and better. Your taste and smell should return back to normal ( the lack of these are a common symptom from the surgery) so no need to be worried as I know its a little shocking and discouraging at first.

      I hope you have a speedy recovery and I hope I have answered your question. Please feel free to ask me more as I enjoy helping others and I know this surgery leaves people a little worried. Thank you again for taking the time in visiting my blog. I hope you have a speedy recovery.

  3. I am sumana

    Functional Endoscopic and Sinus Surgery and Septoplasty has done 20/09/2013, 10 days are over, still Stuffy nose is there, I am unable to breath easily through my nose,

    How long will it be the Stuffy nose and nasal obstruction after FESS and Septoplasty surgery.

    Still how may days will it take to breathe throguh my nose easily.

    Kindly help me in this regard.

    With thanks and regards
    Sumana

    1. Author

      Hello Sumana, First I would like to take the time to thank you for reading my blog and leaving a comment.

      Everyone has a different rate of recovery because of many different reasons so my advice and posts purpose is give the general idea of the recovery process so don’t be alarmed if you find that your recovery is taking longer than expected.

      The stuffy nose you have is likely due to the amount of dried blood in your nose from surgery and this is normal. It takes longer then 10 days to feel better and even longer to feel 100%. The recovery is usually around 14 days but then certain steps need to be taken to speed the recovery process like proper rest, no bending, no added pressure to the nose, a proper sleep position, that your putting medicine often and using the nasal spray often etc… So this all depends.

      To summarize my point, there is no need to be worried because the typical road to recovery is 14 days to feel better and up to 2 months to feel 100% again and breath normally. Don’t try rushing yourself or doing things that are against the doctors orders like lifting stuff or blowing your nose etc. because this will just delay the recovery process. I hope you feel better 🙂

      If you have any more question please feel free to ask, I am here to help.

  4. Hi my name is Jerrod and I had sinus surgery recently. About 1 week out and feeling greatly improved. Wanted to relate that your sore throat was from the intubation, not incubation. I wish you well on your journey through medical academia!

    1. Author

      Hi Jerrod, Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. I just changed the word to intubated, thank you for letting me know. I am glad to know that you are one week out and feeling improved, congratulations on taking the step to get the procedure. Many people are hesitant since it is a procedure on the face, which even the doctor will let you know is the toughest in terms of recovery and discomfort. I’d be glad to help, If you have any questions about recovery feel free to ask, as I might have experienced it. Thank you for wishing me well in my studies, it is going great so far. I wish you a fast and successful recovery.

  5. Had septoplasty, turbinate reduction. Nose is bleeding quite a bit. Have to change gauze every hour. Feel like i was hit in the Head with a Sledge Hammer. Yea throat hurts from being intubated. Don’t go for follow up until the 20th. Today is the 16th. Don’t know how i’m going to survive. Good way to get prisoners to talk…Just tell them you are going to apply pressure to the nose. Bet they will sing…or cry. lol How much blood drainage is normal? Do you have a clue? Please let me know (sooner the Better). 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Ana, sorry for the late reply as I am in the middle of Finals at school. I see you already had your procedure done 3 days ago. Yes, that would be a funny way of getting prisoners to give up information lol. The amount of blood drainage that is considered normal, really depends on each individual. Everyone’s surgery is ultimately different, as well as there natural recovery time. I was pretty surprised myself at the amount of drainage I was experiencing, so don’t be alarmed as it is expected. But don’t worry! The pain will go away before you know it 🙂 . I see your throat hurts from being intubated, that pain was worse for me then the pain in my nose after, BUT the removal of the gauze in maybe your next follow up was number one on my pain scale; the relief after was amazing. I wish you a speedy and successful recovery! Thank you for your comment.

  6. Uhh I have a question so I have had this thing in my nose for 8 years now and idk what it is it doesnt hurt but it obtructs my breathing through my nose in one nostril and it can shift nostrils if I lay on one side for too long so I want to know do I have this thing?

    1. Author

      Hi Joline

      Please ask your doctor as I can not give you direct medical advice.

      Have a great day

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