Balloon Sinuplasty: What Is It, How Does It Work, And, Is It Effective?

A Guide on Balloon Sinuplasty


What is Balloon Sinuplasty?

If you or someone you know suffers from blocked sinuses regularly, then they may be a candidate for in-office balloon sinuplasty. During this procedure, Dr. Cohen will insert small balloon-style catheters into the nasal passages directly into the sinus openings and then dilate the balloons for seconds at a time and then remove the balloons.  This dilation causes microfractures along the sinus openings permanently causing bone remodeling which allows the sinuses to stay open and drain properly.  It is a minimally invasive office-based nasal procedure expertly performed by Dr. Alen Cohen over the past 10 years who is a world-renowned nose and sinus specialist. There is no cutting or tearing of the nasal skin, bruising or incisions required for this procedure.

What Does Balloon Sinuplasty Do?

Accessing the sinuses can be hard to do when they are clogged and is the reason for chronic nasal congestion, constant sinus headaches and recurrent sinus infections. Finding a safe but effective way to enter these cavities, dilate the sinus openings permanently and flush out the mucus lingering is not an easy objective. Until recently, the only way to do this was to have traditional sinus surgery that is invasive in the operating room under anesthesia.

However over the last 10 years Dr. Alen Cohen has been performing this procedure comfortably in the office on over 5000 patients in less than 30 minutes under local anesthesia.  When you have this procedure done, the balloon sinuplasty catheter allows your sinus openings to be accessed and drain the blockage within. The bone structure around the balloon will remodel itself so that your sinus openings have a permanent larger opening, decreasing blockages in your sinus area.

How Does Balloon Sinuplasty Work?

Once the balloon catheter is inserted into the sinus openings and dilated, it will stay in the sinus temporarily so that one can clear out the passages and then deflated and removed. At times the sinuses may just need to be simply accessed, drained or suctioned and in other instances the mucus will need to be irrigated out which is causing chronic sinusitis in your body. Once Dr. Cohen has cleared the nasal and sinus passages, the balloon is removed, leaving the patient free of having blocked passages.  Chronic sinusitis for most patients can be miserable with significant impact on quality of life daily and dangerous for breathing and for one’s overall health, making daily life difficult.

Is Balloon Sinuplasty Effective?

With clear nasal and sinus passages after the procedure, patients are able to breathe comfortably without congestion and feel the pressure, pain, and mucus in their sinuses are relieved for the long term. For those who suffer from chronic sinus infections and experience excessive pain from clogged sinuses, this is an extremely effective procedure. It is one of the most common treatments options taken by patients who have tried and failed various medications like nasal steroid sprays (i.e. Flonase, Nasacort…), saline rinses, decongestants (i.e. Sudafed), antihistamines (i.e. Claritin, Zyrtec…), multiple oral antibiotics and other treatments that have not been effective for long-term relief. Its overall success rate for effective treatment of chronic sinusitis is between 90-92% in most patients, whereas traditional surgery has a 95% effectiveness rate.

What Are The Risks of Balloon Sinuplasty?

While balloon sinuplasty is minimally invasive and performed in the office under local/topical anesthesia compared to other traditional sinus surgeries, there are a few risks that come with the procedure.  These very rare risks include a less than 1% chance of bleeding, infection, and scarring that may need to be retreated in the office.   Other even more rare risks include a less 1 in 5000 risk of leakage of brain fluid (CSF leak) or injury to the eye causing visual changes.  The more of these procedures your surgeon has performed, the lower these risks are and there is no one in Southern California who has done more than Dr. Alen Cohen.  As such he is a nationwide trainer and consultant for the procedure and runs a Stryker Designated Sinus Center of Excellence in Los Angeles.

Is Balloon Sinuplasty Safe?

When comparing all the different treatment options for your sinuses, in-office minimally invasive balloon sinuplasty in the hands of Dr. Alen Cohen is one of the safest treatment options available. Dr. Cohen is able to perform this procedure with local/topical anesthesia without the use of any needles right in the office in under 30 minutes.  He employs state of the art equipment including the Scopus Image Guidance device which has your particular sinus CT scan loaded and is able to target the sinuses that need to be addressed and relieve all the blockages in each patients’ nose and sinus passages safely and effectively.

This procedure also does not require any incisions on the nose or face, no bruising and no stitches to be removed.  This procedure is a quick, in and out option that gives quick relief to patients with little recovery and downtime and helps them improve their overall quality of life.

Does Balloon Sinuplasty Help With Snoring?

In addition to having constant pressure and headaches, those with chronic sinus disorders often experience heavy snoring or sleep disordered breathing on a regular basis because of severe nasal congestion.  Oftentimes Dr. Cohen not only will balloon the sinuses open but he will also perform submucous turbinate reduction as well to clear the nasal passageways of congestion.  As such with balloon sinuplasty and turbinate reduction, many patients who do suffer from snoring find this to be a symptom of the past within the first couple of weeks.   Most wish they had the procedure years before to help them with sleep, energy and avoid battles with their bed partners due to their snoring!

Is Balloon Sinuplasty Painful?

Any time you have a procedure done on your face and in the nasal area, you can expect to have some level of mild discomfort. During an in-office balloon sinuplasty, Dr. Cohen will have all patients take a sedative and some pain killers at home 1-2 hours before the procedure and come with a loved one.  Once in the office, he will place topical numbing ointment in the nose and then cotton-soaked numbing meds in the nose to topically anesthetize the nose and sinuses in each patient.  There are no IV’s or inhaled anesthetics like in an operating room setting.  Patients say it’s like a routine dental procedure and the feelings and sensations are similar to being at the dentist.

Most patients report mild to moderate pain or discomfort after the procedure for 6-8 hours for which they usually take extra-strength Tylenol or in rare instances a low-dose narcotic. Nonetheless, the amount of pain that patients experience compared to other procedures is minimal. There is mild tenderness, swelling, congestion, and headache for 24-48 hours after the procedure and then that is usually gone very quickly.  The nasal passages and sinuses fully heal over 3 weeks with sinus rinses and the final results are then seen and patients all report that it is LIFE CHANGING! Most patients return to work or school or normal activities in 48 hours.

Is Balloon Sinuplasty Permanent?

This question depends very much on two factors.  Factor one is how advanced and severe a patients’ chronic sinusitis is (i.e. if they have polyps or severe allergies) and two if a patient sees a nose and sinus specialist like Dr. Alen Cohen has performed thousands of these procedures with great success and has all of the state-of-the-art equipment to have these procedures done safely and effectively the first time.

Dr. Cohen says on average 9 out of 10 of his patients will never need to have the procedure redone or repeated, however, 10% will need to have a touch-up revision or more advanced procedure if their disease process is very advanced and/or extensive.  On that note, he is avoiding regular surgery in 90% of his patients and allowing them to have amazing results in a small office procedure in under an hour with just local/topical anesthesia and minimal downtime.

Dr. Cohen makes it clear that if there is a severe deviated septum or advanced nasal/sinus polyps, a more advanced procedure called minimally invasive image-guided endoscopic sinus surgery is done in an outpatient surgical center which usually takes 1-1.5 hours will be necessary.  During that procedure, all the issues are addressed and patients are then sent home after an hour when surgery is complete to heal in the comfort of their home.

Thus, at the Southern California Sinus Institute, Dr. Alen Cohen, world-renowned nose and sinus specialist in Los Angeles, aims to identify the cause of patients’ troubling nose and sinus issues and perform procedures that can instantly transform their lives permanently for the better when it comes to their nose and sinus health.  If you’d like a consultation to determine the cause of your issues and obtain better nose and sinus health please call us at 818-888-7878 for a consultation.

How Long Does Balloon Sinuplasty Procedure Take?

Once a patient is anesthetized topically with gel and solutions, the balloon sinuplasty procedure begins, it takes around 15-30 minutes for Dr. Cohen to enter the nasal passages and inflate them safely, address any polyps and shrink the turbinates as well. After the passages are cleared, the balloon is deflated and removed. Since this process is so short and straightforward, it can be done in a short period by expert sinus surgeon, Dr. Alen Cohen.

After it is done, Dr. Cohen may have you wait in the office for a little longer to ensure no immediate surgery reactions. Most patients are in and out of the office in less than 1.5 hours for the procedure. If you were to have this procedure done in the hospital, the operation’s timeframe would be the same, but you may find yourself in the facility much longer before and after.

What To Expect After Balloon Sinuplasty Surgery

There are a few things to keep in mind after you have the balloon sinuplasty surgery in the office. Although it is a short and sweet procedure, it does require some recovery and minimal treatment once you leave the office. Some inflammation begins after the process is over because your body reacts to the balloon and the restricting that happened during this process. As such it is important to ensure that you have a driver to drive you home after the surgery. You will need to take it easy and rest when you get home. Your body will be fatigued from the procedure for 12-36 hours.

After a short recovery of two or three days, you can return to your normal activities. You should experience minimal pain and side effects following the surgery. In fact, your ability to breathe and have clear passageways should begin as soon as the swelling reduces in a week or two. By the time you return to your job or school in 2-3 days, most of the swelling will be gone.

How Long Does Congestion Last After Balloon Sinuplasty?

Any time you have a procedure or surgery on your sinuses, you can expect some congestion right away from inflammation. Your sinuses are so sensitive, so they react to the procedure, creating congestion. There is also build-up from the swelling surrounding the area and add to the congestion already building.

With a small and less invasive procedure like balloon sinuplasty, the congestion will not last as long as other surgeries. You can expect it to begin right away, but be clear within 5-7 days following the balloon sinuplasty. Your newly restructured nasal passages will allow this congestion to drain unlike before, cleaning them out and relieving any pressure you may have on your face. This means that the effects will start to be seen sooner than with other more invasive sinus surgeries.

How Long Do The Effects of Balloon Sinuplasty Last?

Balloon sinuplasty and turbinate reduction in Dr. Cohen’s hands is permanent in over 90% of patients as long as the post-procedure instructions are followed diligently. Depending on how much restructuring the balloon does to your passages during the procedure, most sinus infections can stay away forever for many patients. This also reduces the need for additional treatments to clear clogged nasal passages and congestion forever.

How Much Does Balloon Sinuplasty Cost Without Insurance?

If you do not have medical insurance or have a policy that will not cover the cost of a balloon sinuplasty, it is essential to know the procedure’s cost. Depending on what is needed and the surgery in-office, the cost could range between $5000 and $6500 for most patients. This is a significant reduction from the cost of traditional nasal and sinus surgery in the OR (usu. $9,000 – 15,000) and has lasting effects. If a patient is considered self-pay, you can contact one of our financial representatives to set up other payment options.

Does Medicare Pay For Balloon Sinuplasty?

Knowing if the insurance you have covers a procedure is important for many patients who need balloon sinuplasty. If you are a Medicare recipient, you can have this procedure covered with your Medicare coverage. There may be some additional fees after the insurance is applied to your bill, but Medicate will cover most of the cost. This is due to many patients needing this procedure as an alternative to the traditional sinus surgery that is very invasive. Your Medicare can also be used and your supplemental health insurance policy, reducing even more fees out of your pocket.

Does Balloon Sinuplasty Really Work?

Many patients who have tried many other treatments to clear their sinus passages like sprays, rinses, antibiotics, pills find the most relief from an in-office balloon sinuplasty procedure with or without turbinate reduction. This procedure allows Dr. Cohen to really get into the sinus area, clearing the passageways instantly. With the passage reconstruction caused by the balloon, the lasting effects are much more significant than a nasal spray or other treatments.

Would You Like More Information?

Balloon sinuplasty has proved to be effective in many patients suffering from severe sinus disorders. If you suffer from chronic sinus infections and have difficulty breathing, balloon sinuplasty surgery may be right for you. Feel free to schedule an appointment with Dr. Alen Cohen, an expert nose and sinus specialist, and see if you are a candidate for this in-office procedure. Contact us today at the Southern California Sinus Institute for more information. We look forward to meeting you soon.