Studies show that sinusitis affects about 30 million adults every year in the United States alone. Its impact in the economy is so huge that it receives a broad research focus. Due to the vast amounts of research conducted on sinusitis, we now know how to treat it and reduce the symptoms for a better quality of life.

Sinusitis tends to be uncomfortable if left unattended for a long time. To manage the symptoms, many people turn to a small in-office procedure called balloon sinuplasty. But what exactly is balloon sinuplasty, and is it safe?

What is balloon sinuplasty or balloon dilation sinus surgery

A balloon sinuplasty is a small procedure done to clear blocked sinuses. Balloon sinuplasty has been around since 2005 after the Food and Drug Administration approved its use. It’s also sometimes referred to as the “smart sinus” procedure.

The procedure is often used to treat severe sinus inflammation or chronic sinusitis after other treatments have proven ineffective. Balloon sinuplasty is very straightforward, with few if any complications.

Although there’s no cutting or removal of tissues or bones, the procedure is still a type of sinus surgery, as the sinus opening are permanently remodeled. Therefore, patients can expect to experience minimal risks as compared to other types of sinus surgeries.

What causes sinusitis?

Sinusitis is caused by inflammation, bacteria, fungus or viruses that block the sinuses. The sinuses are four pared spaces in the head that are connected by narrow channels. They make thin mucus that drains out of the narrow channels of the sinuses and into the nose and throat. The draining mucus helps to keep the nose clean and free of irritants and pathogens.

Typically, the sinuses are filled with air. However, sometimes they can get filled and blocked with fluid. When that happens, bacteria can grow, thus causing an infection called bacterial sinusitis. If the sinus tissues get inflamed, the nasal tissues will almost always get swollen.

What are the symptoms of sinusitis? man with sinusitis

Sometimes people confuse sinusitis with the common cold. Below are some of the common signs and symptoms of sinusitis:

  • Mucus drips down the throat
  • Nasal discharge, usually a thick yellow or green discharge
  • Stuffy nose that is constant
  • Facial pressure usually around the eyes, forehead, and nose
  • Halitosis (aka bad breath)
  • Tiredness
  • New onset snoring
  • Coughing
  • Headaches
  • Fever (usually low grade)

Does the balloon sinuplasty procedure help?

Balloon sinuplasty is typically performed in an office setting by a nose and sinus specialist or ENT specialist. The patient doesn’t need to be under anesthesia for the procedure to happen. Patients are often given an oral medication like Valium to relax them ahead of time and then when they arrive in the office, topical medications are applied to the nose and sinuses to numb the affected area.  As such patients are awake and report the procedure is very similar to a routine dental procedure.

When conducting the procedure, the doctor will insert a tiny endoscope into your nose and sinus cavities to get a good look at what they are doing. The next thing they’ll do is insert a thin balloon catheter into your sinus openings. They then will slowly inflate the balloon to expand the sinus opening and remodel it permanently.

The doctor may flush out any built-up mucus and pus or debris in the sinus cavity using a saline solution. You’ll feel a slight decrease in pressure when they do this. While the balloon is in the sinus openings, it restructures your sinuses and the bones around it.

Once the procedure is complete, the doctor will then deflate the balloon and remove it, thus permanently remodeling your sinus “doorways” freeing up your sinus passages of any built-up pressure. The balloon sinuplasty itself takes about 20-30 minutes, but the total procedure takes between 45-60 minutes because of the prep time for anesthesia.

How much does the procedure cost?

A balloon sinuplasty procedure typically costs $5000 to $6000, depending on the facility and experience of the surgeon performing it. Although the procedure is relatively new (12 years old), about 95% of insurers approve of this type of procedure. While you may be responsible for any copays and deductibles, your insurance carrier will verify other benefits for the procedure.

Is balloon sinuplasty safe?

Balloon sinuplasty is very safe and effective if performed by a qualified doctor/surgeon like an expert such as Dr. Alen Cohen at Southern California Sinus Institute. Since its introduction in 2005, it has become one of the most frequently performed types of sinus procedures. The procedure is popular because of its high success rates and low complication risks as well as minimal recovery time.

Patients usually report feeling the following positive results afterward:

  • Instant pain relief from sinus pressure
  • Significant reduction in sinus infections
  • Improved breathing through the nose
  • Reduced discomfort
  • Minimal disruption of everyday life
  • Permanent results
  • Lasting relief from sinusitis

Balloon sinuplasty also has several benefits to traditional endoscopic sinus surgeries such as:

  • Reduced risk of bleeding
  • Faster recovery time
  • Reduced risk of post-operative infection
  • Reduced risk of adverse reaction to anesthesia since there is reduced use of it during surgery
  • Reduced need for post-operative pain medications

The results of balloon sinuplasty typically last permanently in Dr. Alen Cohen’s expert hands. The reason for this is that Dr. Cohen will often combine the procedure with turbinate reduction, or partial vs. total ethmoidectomy as well as polypectomy.  The outcome might depend on the severity of your sinusitis and allergies.

Are there any side effects of the procedure? woman taking deep breath outdoors

People react differently to various procedures, including balloon sinuplasty. Some of the most common side effects associated with the procedure include:

  • Headache (typically only 1-2 days after procedure)
  • Nasal congestion (typically up to 5 days after procedure)
  • Facial pressure (typically lasts for one or two days post procedure)
  • Mild bloody drainage (usually for 24 hours)
  • Minor swelling in the nasal cavities (up to 1 week following procedure)
  • Infection in the sinuses if instructions aren’t properly followed afterwards

What is the recovery time?

Most people go home within 30 minutes of completion of the procedure in Dr. Alen Cohen’s hands and get back to their daily activities after 24 or 48 hours. Sinuplasty can cause tiredness, mild bloody drainage, and grogginess in the first week after the surgery. Your doctor may advise against blowing your nose for about 3 days post-op.

One should avoid any strenuous activities for at least 3 days after undergoing a balloon sinuplasty procedure. Some people find it helpful to rest or sleep with their head or neck in an elevated position for drainage for the first 24 hours.

Why choose us?

If you have sinusitis, don’t delay seeking treatment from a qualified professional. Dr. Alen Cohen of Southern California Sinus Institute is the most experienced surgeon in Los Angeles at performing balloon sinuplasty to help patients get instant relief. If you’d like to find out if you qualify for Dr. Cohen’s progressive in-office balloon sinuplasty procedure in the comfort of our office under local anesthesia, get in touch with our sinus expert today.