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Your doctor may recommend that you undergo sinus surgery if you have:

  • Chronic sinusitis
  • Frequently recurring sinusitis
  • Little or no relief from treatments
  • Developed complications of sinusitis
  • Obstruction of the sinuses by nasal polyps
  • Fungal sinusitis

Surgical treatments include the following:

Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery (FESS)

This operation is performed using an endoscope, a rigid tube with a light on one end. The tube is threaded into your nose and up into the sinus openings. Using this technique, your sinuses can be drained and the sinus openings can be enlarged, allowing better drainage in the future. If polyps (benign growths) are discovered, they can be removed. This type of sinus surgery has a high rate of success and a low rate of complications. However, if complications occur, they may be serious.

Conventional Open Sinus Surgery

Conventional open sinus surgery is also used to enlarge the sinuses for better drainage. Infected sinus linings may be removed during this procedure. Now that FESS is such a successful method, this type of surgery is rarely used. In general, if it is recommended that you have conventional sinus surgery, you should get a second opinion.


Acute sinusitis in adults. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 18, 2012. Accessed January 9, 2013.

Chronic rhinosinusitis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated December 18, 2012. Accessed January 9, 2013.

Djukic V, Dudvarski Z, Arsovic N, Dimitrijevic M, Janosevic L. Clinical outcomes and quality of life in patients with nasal polyposis after functional endoscopic sinus surgery. 2015;272(1):83-89.

Li H, Zhang X, Song Y, Wang T, Tan G. Effects of functional endoscopic sinus surgery on chronich rhinosinus resistant to medication. J Laryngol Otol. 2014;128(11):986-980.

Luong A, Marpie BF. Sinus surgery: indications and techniques. Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2006;30(3):217-222.

Sinusitis. American Academy of Otolaryngology website. Available at: Accessed January 9, 2013.

Sinusitis overview. American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology website. Available at: Accessed January 9, 2013.

Last reviewed August 2015 by David Horn, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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