Sinus Surgery (FESS)

What is Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery?

Functional Endoscopic Sinus surgery (FESS) is minimally invasive surgery performed through the nostrils using endoscopes and specially designed instruments including mechanical shavers and, if appropriate, special balloons to widen the sinus drainage channels (Balloon Sinoplasty). It is individually tailored to the findings inside each patient’s nose and on a CT scan.  

How it is treated?

The operation is performed up inside the nose through the nostrils, under general anaesthetic.  There are no scars on the face. The aim of the operation is to open the sinus drainage channels and so restore the normal function of the nasal lining as far as is possible.

This is achieved by removing bone and inflamed lining in the narrow nooks and crannies of the sinus drainage pathways. These minute passages tend to stick together with long standing allergy or infection in the nose and sinuses, so blocking off the sinus drainage. At the same time as this is carried out, any nasal polyps can be removed. 

Recovery and Follow Up

  • Your nose will feel slightly blocked for up to 2 weeks after surgery. 
  • Your nose may ooze slightly over the first 48 hours and occasional blood and crusts may appear from the nose or in the throat during this time. You should sneeze with your mouth open and avoid blowing your nose for 7 days.
  • You may feel mildly unwell for a few days after the operation and will need 10 to 14 days off work, depending on the degree of physical activity associated with your work. You will be able to work at home after 7 days or so.
  • Antibiotic and steroid tablets or nose-drops may be given to you after surgery to help the healing process.
  • It is very important to douche your nose regularly with alkaline nasal solution for the first weeks after the operation.  We would recommend you buy a nasal douching solution called Sinurinse by Neilmed. This is available from larger local pharmacies. You can also make your own solution of saltwater – further details can be found on information sheet ‘nasal douching’ you will be given prior to discharge from hospital or can be downloaded from the ‘treatment’ section on

You will be seen in Outpatients approximately 2 to 4 weeks after surgery and may need several further visits until the sinuses have healed.

On each occasion your nose and sinuses will be examined with an endoscope. The inside of your nose can be numbed with an anaesthetic spray so it may be cleaned thoroughly.  This aftercare is an extremely important part of the surgical procedure.

It will take the nose and sinus lining from between 6 weeks to 3 months to heal. 

This information was written for Spencer Private Hospitals by Mr Henry Sharp, Consultant ENT Surgeon / Rhinologist and Nasal Plastic Surgeon 

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