What can I expect after my surgery?

Most patients will experience significant improvement in their symptoms soon after sinus surgery. However, it does take time for the body to heal, and while some patients may notice dramatic improvement immediately following surgery, others may not feel substantially better until several weeks after surgery. This depends on a number of factors including the extent of surgery that was done and the patient's personal experience. Remember, it takes time for the sinuses to fully heal after surgery.

The following is some information on what you can expect after sinus surgery.

  • PAIN
  • Some patients experience minimal pain after surgery, while others may experience significant pain for several days. Your physician will prescribe pain medication to help you. However, if you are hesitant about using prescription pain medication, you can take over-the-counter Tylenol.

  • It is common to see blood-tinged nasal secretions during the first week after surgery. It is helpful to keep your head elevated and to avoid blowing your nose. If you need to sneeze, it helps to sneeze with your mouth open to reduce pressure in your nose. After surgery, you should:

    • Avoid strenuous exercise for the first 2 weeks after surgery.
    • Avoid medications that can thin your blood such as aspirin, ibuprofen, Advil, Aleve, Motrin, Coumadin, plavix, herbal medications, and vitamins until cleared by your surgeon.

    Remember: It is NOT normal to have heavy amounts of bleeding after surgery. If you have significant bleeding that does not stop after holding pressure on your nose for several minutes, or if you are concerned that you are bleeding too much, call our office or on-call number immediately, or go to the closest emergency room for further evaluation.

  • Some patients may notice dramatic improvement in their nasal congestion immediately after surgery, while other patients may not notice improvement for several days to weeks. Remember that after surgery, nasal congestion may be due to several factors, including:

    • Packing
    • Crusting
    • Normal post-surgical swelling

    Be patient, follow your postoperative care instructions, and follow up with your surgeon. It will get better.

  • It is common to feel tired in the first days to weeks after surgery. Remember to take it easy while your body is recovering.

  • Plan to take some time off after surgery. Some patients will be ready to go back to work in a matter of days, while others will need 1-2 weeks to recover. When you can return to work will depend upon several factors and may vary from patient to patient. These factors include:

    • The type of surgery
    • The extent of the surgery
    • Your recovery experience
    • The nature of your job (whether you have a desk job or a job that has more physical demands)

    If you have a desk job, you may be able to go back to work within a week after surgery, but you should expect to tire easily. Therefore, please pace yourself and limit your work demands. If you have a job that demands strenuous labor, you may need to take as much as 2 weeks off until your body has time to heal.

    Be patient. If you push yourself and try to do too much, too soon, you may risk slowing the healing process. With time and good postoperative care, the vast majority of patients experience significant long-term improvement.

  • Your surgeon may prescribe medications for you take before and/or after surgery, and these may include antibiotics and/or steroids. These medications are often prescribed to reduce bleeding during surgery and maximize the healing of your sinuses in the postoperative phase.

  • You may or may not have packing in your nose after surgery. If you have packing, it comes in two varieties: One is absorbable and will dissolve on its own with time and regular saline irrigations. The other is not absorbable and will be removed by your surgeon at your follow-up visit. You should discuss this with your surgeon.

  • Your surgeon may instruct you to regularly irrigate your nose and sinuses with saline after surgery. These irrigations help facilitate your recovery and help clean and moisturize your nose and sinuses. Your surgeon will show you how these work.


It is very important to follow up with your physician after surgery. Your surgeon will look in your nose with an endoscope and perform a debridement. During a debridement, the physician removes any crust and mucus that did not flush out with saline irrigations. He or she may also remove any non-absorbable packing. This process is just as important as your surgery in ensuring successful and long-lasting treatment.

Additionally, your surgeon will make sure you are healing well and are on the road to recovery!

If you have any questions, please speak with your physician or contact us. All of the physicians at the Raleigh Capitol Sinus and Allergy Center are affiliated with Raleigh Capitol Ear, Nose and Throat.