Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS)

Functional endoscopic sinus surgery (or FESS) is a type of surgery carried out to treat some of the causes of chronic sinusitis. The FESS procedure enlarges the passages between the sinuses and the nose so that mucus can’t get trapped. FESS uses a very narrow endoscope to examine the nasal passage and sinuses and to remove polyps and any abnormal tissue, so improving drainage of fluid from the sinuses.

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Common questions

Why would I have a sinus operation

If you have chronic sinusitis, which is caused by blockages in the nasal passages.

What happens during a sinus operation?

Nasal surgery is normally performed under a general anaesthetic which means you’ll be asleep during the operation. The FESS procedure is usually carried out as day surgery which means you’ll be able to return home on the same day, but you will not be able to drive yourself so you will need to arrange someone to collect you.

Before the operation you’ll be given a nasal spray to reduce the thickness of the lining in your nose.

During FESS, a thin endoscope will be inserted into your nose enabling the surgeon to see the opening of your sinuses and insert the small surgical instruments required to carry out the treatment.

This may involve removing any tissue (such as nasal polyps) that is blocking the sinus. It could include inflating a tiny balloon within the passages that drain your sinuses in order to enlarge them. The balloon is then deflated and removed - this procedure is known as balloon catheter dilation.

These treatments, aimed at restoring normal ventilation and draining of your sinuses, are carried out endoscopically, using instruments inserted through your nostrils. This enables the surgeon to see inside your nose, identify the exact problem, and carry out the required treatment. There is no need for any external incisions.

What should I expect after a sinus operation?

You will not be able to drive yourself home after the operation, so you will need to arrange someone to collect you.

After surgery you may have packing in the nose to stop bleeding. This should be removed the following morning and any small amount of further bleeding can be controlled by pinching the soft part of the nose, applying an ice pack, and resting. You’ll need to avoid blowing your nose hard for a few days, but gentle sniffing will do no harm. A nasal spray may also help clear the nasal passages during this period.

You may need a few days off work and strenuous exercise should be avoided for a week or two.

Contact Benenden Hospital

It’s easy to make an appointment; you can ask your GP or give us a call on 01580 230661.