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Understanding Balloon Sinus Surgery

Understanding Balloon Sinus Surgery

Balloon sinus surgery is a safe and effective alternative to functional endoscopic sinus surgery. For many people with sinus conditions, it may be the only procedure you need to get lasting relief.

More than 300,000 people have found release from sinus pain and pressure. Don’t let your sinus condition hold you hostage. Here’s what you need to know about balloon sinus surgery.

History of balloon sinus surgery

Balloon dilation technology is used in many medical specialties. Angioplasty is a cardiac procedure performed with a “balloon” that has prevented untold numbers of heart surgeries.

Much as an angioplasty is used to restore blood flow, balloon sinuplasty is used to open up the sinus cavity and restore proper drainage. Many problems with the sinuses can be traced back to poor drainage.

The FDA initially cleared the procedure in 2005 as an endoscopic-based procedure. As recently as 2014, studies were published in the American Journal of Rhinology showing that balloon sinus surgery can be as effective as more traditional sinus surgery for many patients.

How balloon sinus surgery works

Balloon sinus surgery is minimally invasive.  A small-lighted guidewire is inserted into the sinus through the nasal passage. Because a local anesthetic is applied prior to the procedure, the patient feels no discomfort.

Once the wire is in place, a small balloon is inserted. The balloon is gently inflated to re-open the sinus passage. When inflated, the balloon creates hundreds of microfractures in the surrounding bone. The balloon is deflated and the passage stays open. The microfractures hold their shape while the bone heals.

There is no swelling and no tissue removed with this procedure. That is why the recovery time is usually no more than 2 days at the most.

Why balloon sinus surgery is successful

This procedure works because it permanently restores proper drainage to the sinus. Once the bone is healed, it will stay in that position. Many chronic sinus issues are the result of poor drainage. Poor drainage provides a perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. More bacterial infections means more mucous and more pus, giving more media for the bacteria. It creates a cycle that can only be broken with medical intervention.

Unlike conventional sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty does not leave scar tissue. Scar tissue can inhibit proper drainage.

Pharmaceutical therapy, such as decongestants, antibiotics and steroids only provides temporary relief.  Balloon sinuplasty provides a permanent solution.

Who it works for

Not everyone is a good candidate for the procedure. If the blockage is caused by polyps, balloon sinus surgery won’t effectively remove the blockage.

If the blockage is not in the frontal or sphenoid sinuses, the procedure may not work. It has limited effectiveness in the maxillary sinuses.

If tissue is blocking access to the sinus passage, balloon sinuplasty cannot be performed.

Ask the ENT

If chronic pain and pressure from sinusitis is holding you hostage, talk to the ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist about breaking free with balloon sinus surgery. It is covered by most insurance, is painless and has a minimal recovery time. Many patients find their health and quality of life are improved for years to come.


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