This operation is performed for the surgical treatment of nasal polyps. Sometimes polyps are removed just from the cavity of the nose, but more commonly the sinuses are opened up as well. This is called functional endoscopic sinus surgery. A CT scan is always performed prior to surgery on the nose. This allows review of all of the anatomy of the nose, and also assessment of the extent of the nasal polyps.
Why have surgery? If you have a blocked nose because of nasal polyps, and medical treatment has not been helpful, then surgery (nasal polypectomy) can remove these polyps.
Before the surgery? It is useful to use nasal drops for up to two weeks before the operation. This can make the polyps smaller at the time of surgery, and also lead to less bleeding occurring at the time of the surgery.
How is the operation done? The operation takes about 45 minutes and is performed whilst you are asleep. It is usually done as day stay surgery. The operation is performed inside your nose – there will be no scars or bruises on your face. Occasionally it can be performed under local anaesthesia, particularly if there are only a few polyps to remove on each side of the nose.
Packs: A dressing (or pack) may be placed in each side of the nose to keep things in place and prevent bleeding. They will block your nose up so that you have to breathe through your mouth. They are taken out 6 hours after surgery (or the following morning if you stay overnight). You may get a little bit of bleeding when the packs come out – this will settle quickly. Commonly nasal packs are not necessary.
After the operation: Your nose may well be blocked after the surgery. This is due to some swelling you get in the nose after the surgery, as well as some crusting and mild bleeding that can occur. Try not to blow your nose for about a week, or it may start bleeding. If you are going to sneeze, sneeze with your mouth open to protect your nose. You may get some blood coloured discharge from your nose for the first two weeks or so – this is normal. You will be given nose drops and spray to use after surgery (see nasal surgery discharge advice) It may take up to two-three months for your nose to settle down and for your breathing to be clear again. Try to stay away from dusty or smoky places.
How long will I be off work? Usually people go home on the day of surgery. However you need to rest at home for one week. If you do heavy lifting and carrying at work you should take two weeks off. You should avoid piping hot food and fluids for 2 weeks after the surgery, as this can make it more likely for you to have a nose bleed. You can take a bath or shower. You should not play football or other contact sports for 6 weeks.
What can go wrong?
Removal of nasal polyps is very routine and safe surgery. Sometimes your nose can bleed after this operation, and packs may be placed into your nose to stop it. This can happen within the first 6 – 8 hours after surgery or up to 5 – 10 days after surgery. Rarely you may need to return to the operating theatre to stop the bleeding. Sometime bruising can occur around the eyes. This usually settles given time.
Is there any alternative treatment?
Surgery is usually only considered if medical treatment has failed.