Balloon sinuplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that dilates the sinus openings. Many individuals who suffer from chronic sinusitis may benefit from having a balloon sinuplasty procedure to help treat their blocked sinuses. Many may also be wondering if a balloon sinuplasty is the right procedure for them or would they even qualify for it. Other questions may include: what will the procedure be like, how long do the effects last, what care will be required afterward, does it require going to the hospital, and/or can you drive home afterward? These are all questions you should ask your balloon sinuplasty doctor before having the procedure.

Why Ask Your Doctor Questions?

The more informed you are about the procedure the better you will understand the outcomes you can anticipate.  With this understanding, your experience is more likely to be positive. This is true of almost any medical intervention or procedure.

Questions to Ask When Considering Balloon Sinuplasty

One of the first questions you might ask is whether a balloon sinuplasty procedure is indicated for you? The answer may be no. For example, if you have a cold that turns into a sinus infection once or twice a year that would not be sufficient reason to consider a balloon sinuplasty.  In this scenario, steroids and medication should typically be sufficient treatment.

When your ENT doctor and you are considering whether a balloon sinuplasty is the right option some factors to be considered are:

  • The history of sinus infections, how they have been managed and how successful and sustained has the treatment been. For example, if a person has four or more sinus infections a year lasting more than ten days and requiring an antibiotic a balloon sinuplasty may be indicated.
  • Whether nasal steroids and sinus rinses have been used on a preventative basis and have they been successful.
  • Are allergies a component of the problem and, if so, have allergy medicines been used and have they been successful.

In some cases, the opening of the sinuses may not be the problem and therefore a balloon sinuplasty will not help. These conditions include:

  • Nasal polyps
  • Untreated allergic rhinitis
  • Fungal infections
  • Anatomical issues, such as a deviated septum

Questions to Ask About the Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure?

If it is determined a balloon sinuplasty is indicated there will be a different set of questions to consider.  What is a balloon sinuplasty actually like? What outcome can be anticipated from the procedure? While you should ask your doctor personally so you can have the best possible experience, here are a few helpful hints about balloon sinuplasty:

  • This is an in-office procedure (i.e., not performed in a hospital). Your ENT physician’s office should have all the equipment and state-of-the-art tools to perform the procedure.
  • Compared to other types of sinus surgery, the risks of balloon sinuplasty are minimal. There is no major risk of bleeding or damage to the tissue around the sinuses.
  • A balloon sinuplasty is not possible unless the inside of the nose is numb. The doctor will use a Lidocaine spray and cotton to numb the nose prior to the procedure.  The doctor will then make three or four tiny injections of numbing medicine into the nasal cavity. The numbing process is done slowly and methodically so it takes about forty minutes to ensure the nose is completely numb.  If necessary, a medication for relaxation may be used.
  • During the procedure, a camera and other devices are used to put a 7mm balloon gently inside the sinus opening and dilate it. The procedure widens the sinus opening without any cutting and the sinuses tend to stay open.
  • In most cases, the patients can drive themselves home afterward.  This may not be the case if a sedative medication is taken during the numbing process.

Read More: Looking for a Balloon Sinuplasty in Richmond, VA? Start here.

What Happens After the Procedure?

Usually, the patient can expect to be back to normal the following day.  However, it may be advisable to take the day off. There is likely to be some mucous and/or bloody drainage from the nose. Some congestion and mild pain may also occur the day after the procedure.  Typically any pain can usually be handled by medications like Motrin.

The patient will also have to rinse the nose using a neti pot once or twice a day for a couple weeks and follow an antibiotic regimen.

About a month after the procedure there is a follow-up appointment with the ENT to ensure everything went as planned. In a majority of the cases, the sinuses will stay open for about two to three years.

Expectations for Sinus Improvement

Patients typically will want to know what they should expect in terms of a timeline for their improvement? Although every case is slightly different, here are some positive changes which can be anticipated:

  • If you have chronic sinus blockages or a "tight and stuffy" sensation in the top of your nose, this should go away within two or three weeks.
  • Painful sinus pressure should be relieved within a week.
  • The biggest change will be the decrease in the number of sinus infections (e.g., from several a year to one or less).

Is It Covered by Insurance?

The vast majority of insurance companies cover balloon sinuplasty. There are a few Blue Cross plans who do not cover the procedure.  The ENT’s office will work with you on verifying coverage prior to the procedure.

Virginia ENT performs many balloon sinuplasty procedures a year in both the Mayland Court and Wadsworth Drive offices. We have the tools, commitment, and experience to make the experience a positive and lasting one.

If you have questions about balloon sinuplasty, contact us to make an appointment today.