Recovery from nose and sinus surgery — (2023)

There are many different operations that are performed on the nose and sinuses, however the recovery from these procedures often follows a similar course. Procedures that this advice sheet is intended for include:

FESS (Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery) – an operation to widen the narrow drainage channels of the sinuses. This type of surgery is performed using a telescope (endoscope) that is inserted into the nose. It is usually performed to improve symptoms due to acute or chronic sinus infections

Septoplasty – an operation to straighten the middle partition of the nose. This is usually done to improve breathing through the nose.

Reduction of turbinates – this procedure involves reducing the size of the turbinates. The turbinates are natural swellings inside the nose that can contribute to a blocked nasal airway.

Balloon sinuplasty – this involves inserting a deflated balloon through the narrow channels that drain the sinuses. The balloon is then gently inflated to widen the drainage channels. It is performed to improve the ventilation of the sinuses and treat sinus problems. It is sometimes performed as part of FESS.

Nasal polypectomy – this is an operation to remove nasal polyps. It is often performed using telescopes in conjunction with FESS.

How long does nasal surgery take?

The length of surgery depends on the nature of the operation. Most nasal operations take from 15 to 45 minutes. More complex procedures can take a couple of hours.

Will I be asleep for my procedure?

Most nasal procedures are performed under general anaesthetic, so you will be asleep for the duration of your operation. Some procedures, such as balloon sinuplasty, can be performed under local anaesthetic if required by numbing the nose with injections and sprays.

What happens after my operation?

After your surgery, you will be taken from the operating theatre to the recovery ward where you will wake up from your anaesthetic. Once you are fully awake, you will be taken back to your room. You can usually have something to eat about an hour after your operation.

As the nose has a rich blood supply, it is normal to have a small amount of bleeding from the nose after the operation. You will have a gauze dressing taped underneath the nose to catch any ooze that comes from the nose. Very occasionally some dressings (or “packs”) will be put in the nose. If this is necessary, they will usually be removed after a couple of hours.

How long will I be in hospital for?

Most nasal operations take place as day case procedures and you can leave hospital a few hours after the procedure. If you have other health problems or are having complex procedure performed, an overnight stay may be required.

Caring for your nose at home

It is normal to have a blocked nose after nasal surgery. Often the nose is clear immediately after the operation, but gradually blocks up over the next few hours. It is common for the nose to be blocked for three weeks before the nasal airway begins to improve. This is because the nasal airways are narrow, and even a small amount of swelling of the lining of the nose can cause a blocked nose. Usually you will have some watery blood-stained discharge from the nose, which settles after a few days. Occasionally some crusts or scabs will form in the nose as part of the healing process. Please resist the temptation to pick these out, as it could cause a nosebleed, or infection in the nose. You can use saline washes to help clear them.

You will usually be given some drops and washes to use in the nose after your operation. These can be sniffed through the nose to help clear the nasal airways.

You should not fly for three weeks after nasal or sinus surgery as the cabin pressure changes and very dry air increase the risk of having a nosebleed.

Occasionally patients who have had a septoplasty or septorhinoplasty experience some numbness or tingling of the tip of the nose or front, upper, teeth. This is caused by irritation of the nerve that supplies the area, which runs along the bottom of the nasal septum. In most cases this will settle with time, although it can take several months as nerves heal very slowly.

Some discomfort is normal after surgery to the nose or sinuses, but it should not be very painful. If you do have problems with significant pain (such as pain that does not respond to simple painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen), please contact me. Pain can be a sign of a sinus infection, or a clot underneath the lining of the septum ("septal haematoma"). If left untreated, a septal haematoma can give rise to a hole in the middle partition of the nose ("septal perforation").

When can I go back to work?

It is advisable not to go to work or attend social gatherings for two weeks after most nasal operations. This is mainly to avoid contracting any infections whilst your nose is healing.

After balloon sinuplasty or reduction of inferior turbinates, you can usually return to work after two days.

Tips & tricks for caring for your nose after nasal surgery:

  • For the first couple of days after your operation, it is helpful to sleep with your head propped up with more pillows than usual. This reduces the blood pressure on the inside of the nose, and can reduce both bleeding and swelling on the inside of the nose.
  • Unless advised by your doctor, don’t take aspirin as this thins your blood and increases the length of time it takes for blood to clot.
  • Although it is fine to sniff through your nose after your operation, you should try and avoid blowing your nose for two weeks after surgery, as this increases the chances of having a nosebleed.
  • Don’t take any vigorous exercise, lift anything heavy or strain excessively for four weeks after surgery, as this can also increase the risk of having a nose bleed.
  • Smoking causes inflammation in the nose. It slows the healing process and makes complications, such as nosebleeds and infections more likely. It is very helpful to stop smoking both in the run-up and recovery from nasal surgery. Your GP practice should be able to give you advice on how to stop if required.
  • If you do need to sneeze, this is best done through your mouth. You may wish to gently bite your finger to make sure you do!
  • Avoid crowded places and social events whilst recovering, to reduce the chance of catching a cough or cold, which would slow down your recovery.
  • If you do have a nosebleed, pinch your nostrils together. Don’t squeeze your nasal bones, as this won’t do anything. Put your head forward, and spit out any blood that runs down your throat (If you swallow blood, it can irritate the lining of the stomach, and make you feel sick). It can also help to put an ice-pack (or some frozen peas) over your forehead and the bridge of your nose, and to suck an ice-cube.

If you have any: green or mucky discharge from the nose; a raised temperature; a nosebleed you can’t control; increasing pain; or any other queries, please contact me on or 01892 740671, or the hospital where you had your operation.


How long does it take to recover from nose sinus surgery? ›

Your nasal passage and breathing should return to normal 2-3 weeks after surgery. Postoperative visits: You will have a certain number of postoperative visits depending on what surgery you have. During these visits we will clean your nose and sinuses of fluid and blood left behind after surgery.

How long do you have to sleep up after sinus surgery? ›

You will have to sleep with your head elevated for 24-48 hours after surgery to help the bleeding slow down and help the swelling resolve.

How long are you in the hospital after sinus surgery? ›

You will most likely be able to go home a couple of hours after the procedure but will need to limit certain activities for up to two weeks.

How long does it take to recover from septoplasty and turbinate reduction? ›

Recovery time for septoplasty and turbinate reduction varies for each individual. It also depends on how invasive your procedure was. Most of the time complete healing in your nose is complete within 3-4 weeks.

Can I walk around after sinus surgery? ›

This can reduce swelling. Try to sleep on your back during the month after surgery. You can also sleep in a reclining chair. Try to walk each day.

What can you not do after sinus surgery? ›

Go for a walk
  • Walking and light exercise are good for you.
  • Some activities may increase bleeding – you should avoid bending, lifting or straining for one week after sinus surgery as they will all increase the risk of bleeding.

When can I shower after sinus surgery? ›

You may wash your face being careful to only cleanse the area surrounding the area around the nasal tape/splint. You may shower 2 days after surgery. If you shower, use a dry washcloth or plastic wrap over splint/tape. Please shower or bathe using only lukewarm water for first 2 weeks after surgery.

How long will my head hurt after sinus surgery? ›

It can take several months for your sinuses to fully recover after sinus surgery. "I did not have much sinus pain at all," Szczygiel recalls, "but it did take a long time to experience the complete results of the surgery. In my case, it took about one year before I really started to appreciate how much better I felt."

What happens one week after sinus surgery? ›

For the first week after surgery, your head will feel stuffy. This is because you will have swelling of the mucous membranes of your nose. This is normal and expected. The stuffiness will gradually decrease over the next few weeks, so please be patient.

Will I have black eyes after sinus surgery? ›

Recovery. After sinus surgery, it is normal to experience pain (usually a headache or a slight burning sensation in the mid-face region), nosebleeds, and bad breath for the first 24 to 72 hours. Less commonly, you may develop a black eye or have temporary numbness or tingling in the face or gums.

Is sinus surgery very painful? ›

Healthcare providers use general or local anesthesia when they do sinus surgery. General anesthesia means you're unconscious and don't feel any pain. People who have local anesthesia may feel pressure during surgery but typically don't feel any pain. They may have mild to moderate pain for about a week after surgery.

Is sinus surgery a serious surgery? ›

Endoscopic sinus surgery is a very common procedure, and it is considered highly safe. That said, like with any surgical procedure, there is a small chance of risks. These include: Most sinus surgeries entail some amount of blood loss, but sometimes significant bleeding may occur.

How do you sleep after turbinate surgery? ›

Sleep with your head raised with three or four pillows. This can reduce swelling. You can also sleep in a reclining chair.

How long will I be out of work after deviated septum surgery? ›

Similar to other forms of surgery, you'll need to spend some time recovering. In the case of a septoplasty, it usually takes about a month or two to completely heal. However, you can likely return to work and your regular schedule within five to seven days.

How do you sleep after septoplasty and turbinate reduction? ›

Do not lie flat. Raise your head with two or three pillows. This can reduce swelling. Try to sleep on your back for the month after surgery.

What is the fastest way to recover from sinus surgery? ›

5 Tips for Sinus Surgery Recovery
  1. 1) Change Your Drip Pad Regularly. ...
  2. 2) Get as Much Sleep as Possible – but with a Raised Head. ...
  3. 3) Try and Walk Every Day. ...
  4. 4) Don't Blow Your Nose. ...
  5. 5) After Bandages and Packing are Removed, Clean Your Nose with Saline. ...
  6. Sinus Surgery in San Antonio, TX.

Can you bend over after sinus surgery? ›

For the first week following surgery you should not blow your nose. In addition, you should not bend, strain, or lift more than 20 lbs. during the first week. Light walking and regular household activities are acceptable anytime after surgery.

Will I sound different after sinus surgery? ›

Background: Changes in nasalance caused by resonance change after endonasal surgeries have been reported in prior studies. In clinical practice, although patients often complain of a nasal voice just after surgery, their voices recover over time.

Can I drink through a straw after sinus surgery? ›


No nose blowing. If you have to cough or sneeze, make sure your mouth is open. No drinking from a straw.

How long does packing stay in nose after sinus surgery? ›

The packings can be removed 24-48 hours after operation (1). Researchers reports that removing Merocel nasal packing in 24 hour after surgery causes less pain when compared to removing it 48 hour after surgery (1).

Can I eat after sinus surgery? ›

You can eat your normal diet. If your stomach is upset, try bland, low-fat foods like plain rice, broiled chicken, toast, and yogurt. Avoid hot and spicy foods right after surgery.

Can you lay flat after sinus surgery? ›

Luckily, one week post-operatively, it is safe to resume sleeping on your back or side, provided that you are careful to avoid putting pressure on your nose. While it is safe to lie flat on your back or carefully on your side, it is important to understand that doing so may prolong swelling and bruising.

What happens if you sneeze after sinus surgery? ›

Nose blowing and sneezing

Gently blowing your nose may be advised to begin the day after surgery. Try to open your mouth when you sneeze. In rare cases sneezing may cause swelling around the eyes – if this occurs contact your surgeon or nearest emergency room.

Why do you feel so tired after sinus surgery? ›

Fatigue: As your body heals and recovers, you will feel extremely tired. This can last for a couple weeks post-surgery, and it's important to rest as much as you need to. Mild pain: Most patients don't experience severe pain after sinus surgery, and are able to control their pain with Tylenol.

Is sinus surgery hard to recover from? ›

It may take you several weeks to recover completely. After the operation, you will have some swelling and tenderness within your nose, but that's normal. Symptoms such as severe cold or sinus infection can occur. This is because of swelling, dried blood, mucus, and nasal crushing.

Why do they pack your nose after sinus surgery? ›

After surgery, it's important to take good care of your nose and sinuses to let them heal properly and prevent scars. In some cases, your doctor may have placed temporary nasal packing inside your nose to support the newly opened sinus passages and to absorb excess fluid while your tissues heal.

How do you wash your hair after sinus surgery? ›

Answer: Hair washing tips after rhinoplasty

You can try washing your hair from behind, so as to limit the amount of water that may reach your nasal splint (cast).

Is sinus surgery risky? ›

Endoscopic sinus surgery is a common procedure and is considered extremely safe. As with any surgical procedure, there are some risks involved, though the chance of complications is extremely low. Loss of blood in small quantities is normal during sinus surgery, though there is a risk of significant bleeding.

Do they cut your nose for sinus surgery? ›

During Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

It does not include cutting the skin, because it is performed entirely through the nostrils. Most people can return home the same day. The sinus surgeon will use an endoscope — a thin camera rod with a light at the end — to magnify and better see the sinus tissues.

What is the success rate of sinus surgery? ›

The results after FESS are good, with most studies reporting an 80 to 90 percent rate of success. Good results also have been obtained in patients who have had previous sinus surgery. The procedure is considered successful if the majority of the patient's symptoms are resolved.

What do you wear to sinus surgery? ›

What to Wear. You will need to change into a hospital gown for endoscopic sinus surgery, so wear something you are able to get into and out of easily. Avoid bringing any valuables with you, including jewelry and watches.

Do you get a catheter during sinus surgery? ›

Under general anesthesia, a temporary tube is inserted into your mouth/throat to maintain your breathing. If the planned surgery is for more than 3 hours duration, a urinary catheter may also be placed while you are asleep. It is usually removed in before you leave the recovery room.

Can sinus surgery affect your brain? ›

Brain injury is rare after sinus surgery, but it is possible because many of the sinuses are next to the brain. Change in the senses of smell and/or taste. Any surgery inside the nose can occasionally cause alterations in the sense of smell.

How do I clean my nose after turbinate surgery? ›

Begin SINUS SALINE IRRIGATION the day after surgery. USE DISTILLED OR STERILE WATER (you may purchase at any grocery store). Do this three (3) times daily (minimum), for 3 weeks. Thick blood tinged mucous plugs will accumulate in the nasal passages.

Do turbinates grow back after surgery? ›

Occasionally, turbinate tissue will re-grow after turbinate surgery, and the procedure may need to be repeated. There are a variety of surgical techniques that may be used to reduce turbinates, and we encourage you to speak with your ENT physician about the benefits of each one.

Is deviated septum surgery considered major surgery? ›

To minimize the minor side effects, patients can sleep with their head elevated. Septoplasty is a minor nose surgery that can achieve major results.

Can you drive home after deviated septum surgery? ›

Bring a family member or friend who can drive you home after the septoplasty. General anesthesia may make you drowsy after the procedure. You shouldn't drive until the effects have fully worn off. Your doctor might take pictures of your nose before the procedure.

Can I bend over after septoplasty? ›

Avoid bending, lifting, or straining for one week after surgery. Avoid bending, straining, or any activity that increases pressure on your face or nose for the first week after surgery.

How long do you have to breathe through your mouth after septoplasty? ›

However, if the doctor puts packing in your nose, it will stay in for about 24 to 36 hours. In this case, you will have to breathe through the mouth until it's removed. For maximum clearness, it will take about three to six months.

Can I work the day after septoplasty? ›

Generally, it takes a day or two for the patient to resume work after septoplasty surgery with the most advanced treatment. The patient fully recovers from a septoplasty in a week.

How long will my nose be swollen after sinus surgery? ›

Swelling inside your nose (areas of surgery) is expected. 50-60% of swelling inside your nose is resolved by 2 weeks. Swelling continues to resolve rapidly thereafter, but your final nasal breathing result is not achieved until 2-3 months following surgery. It just gets better over time.

What are the side effects of sinus surgery? ›

The complications that can occur during sinus surgery are mostly rare and include the following:
  • Bleeding. Bleeding after surgery tends to happen within the first 24 hours. ...
  • Intracranial complications. ...
  • Damage to the eye or surrounding tissue. ...
  • Changes to a person's voice. ...
  • Loss of smell or taste. ...
  • Infection. ...
  • Nasal issues.
16 Apr 2017

How can I heal faster after sinus surgery? ›

  1. Keep your head elevated to help reduce bleeding and swelling after your operation. ...
  2. If you have packing material and splints in your nose, make sure they stay in place. ...
  3. Some bleeding is normal for 2 to 3 days after your operation. ...
  4. Don't blow your nose for at least a week after surgery.

How long do you wear drip pad after sinus surgery? ›

But it will improve and will often return to normal in 1 to 2 months. You will have a drip pad under your nose to collect mucus and blood. Change it only when it bleeds through. You may have to do this every hour for 24 hours after surgery.

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