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Ear, Nose, and Throat

Post-Operative Instructions

What to Expect After Nasal and Sinus Surgery

  • Nasal and sinus surgery is performed under general anesthesia so you will be asleep during the surgery. After surgery, you will spend a few hours in a recovery room to allow you to wake up. Most patients feel good enough to go home a few hours after their surgery.
  • After nasal and sinus surgery, you can expect drainage from your nose that will be red in color. This drainage will decrease in amount and turn lighter in color over the few days after surgery and a small amount of blood-tinged drainage may be present for about 10 to 14 days.
  • Surgery also causes temporary swelling of the tissues in the nasal cavities. You may have a temporary feeling of congestion and fullness in your nose and sinuses.

What to Do

  • Please contact us with any questions or concerns. There is a doctor available 24/7.
  • You can wear a cotton gauze pad underneath your nose for the first few days after surgery in order to catch the drainage from your nose. You should change the gauze under your nose as it becomes soiled. Please contact us immediately if there is any persistent bleeding.
  • In order to reduce nasal congestion, it is helpful to sleep with your head elevated. For the first week after surgery, try to sleep with at least two pillows beneath your head so that your head is higher than the level of your chest.
  • Take the antibiotics prescribed to you by your doctor to help prevent infection. Antibiotics should be started the evening of surgery.
  • Take your pain pills to help lessen the pain.
  • Although pain medications will be prescribed to you by your doctor, you are encouraged to take extra strength Tylenol or regular Tylenol instead of prescription pain medications for mild pain or discomfort. Do not take aspirin and NSAIDs such as Advil, Motrin, and Aleve, or pills that contain these drugs as they may increase chances of bleeding.
  • After the surgery, follow up regularly as instructed with your doctor in order to evaluate how your nasal cavity and sinuses are healing.
  • Take your pain pills about 30 minutes before your first two post-operative visits.
  • After your first post-operative visit, flush your nasal cavity with a saltwater solution prescribed by us. You will be given instructions on how to do this. This helps the nasal cavity and sinuses to heal better. It is normal to have large crusts or scabs coming out from the nose after using the saltwater flushes.

Cautions and Restrictions

  • In order to help prevent bleeding, do not blow your nose for 10 days after surgery. You may gently sniff back any secretions. Once you begin your saltwater nasal flushes, you can gently blow your nose. If you need to sneeze, you should do so with your mouth open. Do not hold back a sneeze.
  • It is important to avoid any strenuous activity for the first 2 weeks after surgery. You may continue to get moderate exercise by walking.
    • Avoid any exercise that makes you feel strained.
    • Avoid bending over and lifting any objects over 20 pounds.
    • Avoid aerobics, jogging, exercising, swimming or contact sports.
  • Use caution when taking narcotic pain pills.
    • Do not drive a car or operate any other vehicle as the pills may cause you to feel drowsy.
    • Do not drink alcohol when taking the pain pills.
    • Do not take any pain medication on an empty stomach.
  • Drink lots of fluids and slowly advance to your regular diet as tolerated.
  • Do not smoke. Avoid second-hand smoke and other fumes that can irritate the nose.
  • Do not travel by airplane for a few weeks. Please await medical clearance prior to flying.
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