What are the Different Types of Sinus Surgeries?

A woman smiling after her mouth sore was treated.

Published Jan 4, 2020

Chronic sinus infections and conditions can be annoying, even debilitating to some extent. When home remedies, medications, and treatments fail to solve the problem, ENT doctors may recommend you have surgery. Surgery may be necessary to remove abnormal growths, correct cavity structure, and solve recurrent infections. It should be noted that surgery is often the last line of defense or last resort when simple, less drastic measures prove ineffective. This article will cover the basic types of sinus surgeries, which will hopefully clear up some of your concerns and curiosities

A picture of a doctor and nurse doing a surgery

Types of Sinus Surgeries

Unlike other medical professions, ENTs can not only diagnose you but perform the surgery as well. Depending on your condition, they may recommend one of these types of surgeries.


Septoplasty is the surgical correction of obstructions and deformities of the nasal septum (the soft tissue that divides the nostrils). The septum is the part made up of both bone and cartilage and is found in the middle of our noses. One common condition humans suffer from is a deviated septum, which is either congenital or caused by trauma. A deviated septum can lead to the blockage of either nostril and can significantly disrupt and disturb the airflow. 

Septoplasty is an outpatient procedure that will require general anesthesia. Like most operations, it does not come risk-free with possible complications in the form of septal hematoma, infection, perforation, and bleeding. 


Some people may choose to get rhinoplasty for cosmetic purposes, but it serves functional ones as well. Rhinoplasty is the operation that reshapes the structure of the nose. While some people use this operation as a chance to change their appearance, it may also be used to improve breathing or both. Rhinoplasty can modify all the three components that make up the nose, namely skin, cartilage, and bone. 

ENT surgeons perform functional rhinoplasty to remove abnormalities that could obstruct and impair breathing. Risks associated with this operation include bleeding, infection, or an adverse reaction to anesthesia. Fortunately, either a part or the entire rhinoplasty is covered by some insurance. 

Balloon Sinuplasty

Balloon sinuplasty or balloon sinus surgery is the least invasive of all the surgeries on this list. It is a fairly straightforward procedure that an ENT surgeon can perform in their office under local anesthesia. This operation is just as straightforward, where the surgeon inserts a flexible balloon catheter into the nasal passage. Once it’s positioned correctly, the balloon is then inflated to expand the sinus cavity. This process creates microfractures in the bone, and the balloon must be kept in place while the bone reforms into its new shape. Additionally, doctors may also use a saline solution to flush out blocked mucus and pus, should there be an unwanted buildup. 

After this operation, the sinuses should feel much freer and more comfortable. Recovery from balloon sinuplasty takes no more than two days, and patients have been documented to drive themselves immediately after the operation.

Turbinate Reduction

Turbinates are the small structures within the nose that help cleanse and humidify the air that passes through the nasal passages and enters the lungs. However, they can become inflamed and swollen due to allergies, irritation, or infection, consequently obstructing the airflow and producing excessive mucus leading to congestion. 

When this inflammation and swelling occurs, this will typically require surgery, specifically turbinate reduction. Turbinate reduction aims to reduce the swelling and size to make it easier for the patient to breathe. Radiofrequency turbinate reduction is a procedure that uses a needle-like instrument, which is inserted into the turbinate and causes controlled damage. By the time the turbinates heal from this damage, they are significantly reduced, immediately allowing for improved airflow. Turbinate reduction does not affect the nose’s size or structure, so you shouldn’t expect any long-term side-effects from this operation.

Endoscopic Sinus Surgery

Endoscopic sinus surgery is one of the most common sinus operations today. Like balloon sinuplasty, this procedure uses an endoscope to view the sinuses and remove affected tissue or bone simultaneously. This operation should result in proper drainage by removing polyps, tissue, and bone, making only minor incisions.

You should know that this procedure is followed by a lengthy recovery period, where you will need to perform at-home nasal flushes to remove dried blood and mucus for about ten days after.

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Author Terrence Tan Ting

About The Author

 is an industrial engineer by profession but a full time writer by passion. He loves to write about a wide range of topics from many different industries thanks to his undying curiosity.