For years I had suffered a host of distressing/uncomfortable symptoms like vision/sleep/breathing disturbances, loss of smell, snoring, facial pain, headaches etc. My doctors suggested short-term and long-term treatments like nasal sprays and medications. Though the polyps did shrink initially, they grew back in bigger size and number, leading to severe pain and suffering. Having exhausted almost all conventional treatment options, as a nasal polyps sufferer I was told by my physicians and ENT specialists that surgery would be perhaps the only approach that could relieve the misery. Surgery would remove them and provide relief.
Surgery for Nasal Polyps
Surgery for nasal polyps could be undertaken when other treatments have failed and when the size and number of the polyps poses a hazard. The type of surgery recommended is based on the size, location and number of polyps. An ENT surgeon performs the procedure either in a hospital or out-patient clinic. Basically, there are two surgical approaches:
- Endoscopic Sinus Surgery: is also undertaken when the sinuses are involved. It is performed under local or general anesthesia depending on the case. Diseased tissue and polyp material are removed from the sinuses via an endoscope and micro-surgical instruments inserted through the nostrils. A moisturized micro-debriber (similar to an electric shaver) removes the polyps carefully in stages to prevent any hemorrhaging. There are no external incisions on the face or nose. The nasal passage/cavities may be widened to facilitate easier breathing. This is an outpatient procedure, with/without nasal packing.
- Traditional Surgery: is recommended in case of suspected or diagnosed cancer in the polyps. This requires general anesthesia and is much more rare.
Surgery for Deviated Septum
Septum is a cartilage that separates the two nostrils/nasal passages and supports the nose. It provides an air-flow channel. When the cartilage/bone are deformed/crooked, a deviated septum occurs. Causes may be congenital or due to accident/injury or conditions like nasal polyps and results in snoring/sleep apnea. Septoplasty is the surgery undertaken to correct this abnormality. In this case too, endoscopic surgery is performed under local/general anesthesia. The surgeon uses an endoscope to view the inside of the nose and micro-tools for surgery. Sometimes the turbinates (which keep the lining moist) are also repaired. This is usually an outpatient procedure.
Medication, pain-killers, saline rinses, antibiotics and steroid nasal-sprays are prescribed during recovery. Recovery period depends on the type and location of surgery. Vigorous nose-blowing, strenuous exercise, bending forward is to be avoided for a few days. A de-humidifier is to be used while sleeping.
Common Post-surgical Problems
Endoscopic surgery may cause issues like crusting inside the nose which should ideally disappear in a few weeks. Frequent nose-bleeds and post-operative infections are another risk factor that follows endoscopic surgery for nasal polyps and deviated septum.
Surgery for nasal polyps and a deviated septum is very effective. However, they tend to recur after a period of time. Nasal sprays and medications have to be continued to prevent/slow down recurrence. Life-style/diet changes have to be made. In case of deviated septum, the prognosis is much better especially if the problem is unconnected with nasal polyps.