More patients are being asked about the risks of balloon sinuplasty, as more patients finding results with this procedure. One of the biggest questions and concerns specialists are receiving is the risks of balloon sinuplasty and knowing what they are. No matter how successful, all medical procedures come with a few risks that patients need to know before they undergo the procedure.

Common Risks of Balloon Sinuplasty

While these procedures frequently come off with minimal issues, there are a few risks that can happen.

  • Swollen Nasal Cavities
  • Bloody Drainage
  • Temporary Appearance Altering
  • Congestion

Swollen Nasal Cavities woman with sinus discomfort

Due to the nature of the balloon sinuplasty, there is some temporary swelling expected with the nasal cavities. In some cases, this minor risk lasts for longer than a few days and can make the nose appear larger than before for the duration of recovery.

Bloody Drainage

Another risk that patients have when they undergo a balloon sinuplasty is the chance of excess drainage for a couple of weeks post-surgery. While a little drainage is common and expected, having this bloody drainage for a week or two can be inconvenient and concerning for many patients. The drainage often appears at random times.

Temporary Appearance Altering

One of the biggest risks of balloon sinuplasty surgery is the possible face changes that patients experience. Due to the swelling and shifting of the nasal glands during this procedure, the shape of their nose and cheeks can change temporarily for several months following the procedure. In some rare cases, one side of the nose could be slightly larger than the other because of the expansion being more successful on one side over the other.


One of the immediate side effects of balloon sinuplasty is congestion build-up for the week following the procedure. As the nasal glands start to heal and adjust to the procedure, the congestion will start to subside and be gone in just a few days.

These risks are minor in nature and are not concerning for patients over a long time. There are some major risks associated with this procedure. However, that can be more permanent in nature.

Major Risks Associated With Balloon Sinuplasty

While there are a few more common complications, every procedure, no matter how large or small, comes with major risks to consider. Below are some rare but possible risks associated with this procedure.

  • Sinus Separation
  • Internal Bleeding
  • Anesthesia Reactions
  • Tissue Damage
  • Optical Damage

These risks are rare and often discovered right away. While they can be corrected, they could delay the recovery time a few days or even weeks, depending on the level of damage done to the affected area.

Sinus Separation

Any surgery that includes your nose and sinus area runs the risk of sinus separation from your brain. If the sinus is torn, you will have cerebrospinal fluid leakage, which is a serious risk. When this happens, your doctor will need to go in and do an additional procedure to repair this damage. Almost every case of this happening has been corrected during the procedure and not found later when the patient awakes.  This could increase your recovery time by several weeks, but it needs to be corrected immediately.

Internal Bleeding

Another concern that comes with any procedure is the risk of internal bleeding. Because sharp tools and objects will be working near tissue and veins, having a small nick on a vein can cause significant internal bleeding. In most cases, this is caught before the ENT has completed the sinuplasty because of the level of blood filling the nose cavities. If internal bleeding is not discovered right away, you could be in danger and your life at risk as you continue to lose blood.

For patients who are anemic or take blood thinners regularly, this risk is higher because their bodies cannot clot and stop bleeding.

Anesthesia Reactions Risks of Balloon Sinuplasty

Because patients will undergo small anesthesia for this procedure, there are always risks associated with being put under for a time period. While it is scarce, some patients have a reaction to the anesthesia following the surgery. Some reactions include the following:

  • Confusion and temporary memory loss
  • Shivering or hypothermia
  • Increased Itching all across the body
  • Increased nausea

These symptoms tend to last anywhere from a few hours to a few days following the surgery, making the procedure difficult the first few days. In many cases, these anesthesia reactions are rare and not all presented at once for each patient. If you have been introduced to anesthesia in the past, you may have an idea of how your body will react to this part of the procedure.

Tissue Damage

Another issue that some patients experience with a balloon sinuplasty is tissue damage. Because the balloon is expanding your nasal cavity, the tissue in this cavity could be damaged as it stretches and widens throughout the procedure. All patients do not experience this tissue damage, and it only common in sensitive areas to touch. This means that blowing your nose to relieve congestion will not be an option for several days if you experience this type of damage.

Optical Damage

Some of the damage that patients rarely experience from this procedure is optical damage. Everyone’s face is different, making the eyes and optical nerve closer to the procedure area than others. For those with a shorter distance to the optical nerve, the chance of it getting a slight cut or damage from the procedure may be higher due to distance. Again, this is rare, and the damage to the nerve can vary if it does happen.

The Reward Outweighs The Risks

While these risks are concerning and can have life-altering complications for a minimal number of patients, the fact remains that the possibility of these risks happening is also low compared to the number of procedures performed by the Southern California Sinus Institute. The benefits that patients get from having this surgery can last for months and even a year or two, significantly increasing their quality of life.

If you would like more information on the balloon sinuplasty procedure, contact our office today.