• Minimally invasive endoscopic surgery involves inserting special instruments and an endoscope through your nose. An endoscope is a thin, lighted instrument with a small camera. The camera transmits pictures of the inside of your nose to a video screen viewed by your doctor while performing surgery. Endoscopic surgery generally involves a faster recovery and less pain and risk of complications than other types of surgery. This is because it requires no incision and causes less trauma to tissues and organs.
  • Open surgery involves making an incision inside or around the nose. An open surgery incision allows your doctor to directly view and access the surgical area. Open surgery generally involves a longer recovery and more pain than minimally invasive surgery. Open surgery requires a larger incision and more cutting and displacement of muscle and other tissues than minimally invasive surgery. Despite this, open surgery may be a safer or more effective method for certain patients.

Your surgeon will advise you on which procedure is best for you and how long you need to stay in the hospital based on your diagnosis, age, medical history, general health, and possibly your personal preference.  Learn about the different procedures and ask why your doctor will use a particular type for you.

Types of anesthesia that may be used

Your surgeon will perform nasal airway surgery using either general anesthesia or regional anesthesia. 

  • General anesthesia is a combination of intravenous (IV) medications and gases that put you in a deep sleep. You are unaware of the procedure and will not feel any pain. 
  • Regional anesthesia is also known as a nerve block. It involves injecting an anesthetic around certain nerves to numb a large area of the body. You will likely have sedation with regional anesthesia to keep you relaxed and comfortable.

What to expect the day of your nasal airway surgery

The day of your surgery, you can generally expect to:

  • Talk with a preoperative nurse. The nurse will perform an exam and ensure that all needed tests are in order. The nurse can also answer questions and will make sure you understand and sign the surgical consent form.
  • Remove all clothing and jewelry and dress in a hospital gown. It is a good idea to leave all jewelry and valuables at home or with a family member. Your care team will give you blankets for modesty and warmth.
  • Talk with the anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist about your medical history and the type of anesthesia you will have.
  • A surgical team member will start an IV.
  • The anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist will start your anesthesia.
  • A tube will be placed in your windpipe to protect and control breathing during general anesthesia. You will not feel or remember this or the surgery as they happen.
  • The surgical team will monitor your vital signs and other critical body functions. This occurs throughout the procedure and your recovery until you are alert, breathing effectively, and your vital signs are stable.

What are the risks and potential complications of nasal airway surgery? 

As with all surgeries, nasal airway surgery involves risks and possible complications. Complications may become serious and life threatening in some cases. Complications can develop during surgery or recovery.

General risks of surgery 

The general risks of surgery include: 

  • Anesthesia reaction, such as an allergic reaction and problems with breathing 
  • Bleeding, which can lead to shock
  • Blood clot, in particular a deep vein thrombosis that develops in the leg or pelvis. A blood clot can travel to your lungs, heart or brain and cause a pulmonary embolism, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Infection and septicemia, which is the spread of a local infection to the blood

Potential complications of nasal airway surgery

Complications of nasal airway surgery include:

  • Continued headaches
  • Damage to your eye, eye socket, or related structures
  • Damage to your skull resulting in meningitis (infection in the brain), brain abscess, or spinal fluid leakage 
  • Failure to restore, or loss of your sense of taste or smell
  • Nerve damage resulting in numbness of the upper teeth, palate, nose, or face
  • Pain and impaired healing
  • Persistent symptoms
  • Recurrence of nasal airway obstruction, enlarged turbinates, or polyps
  • Septal bending and return of the septum to its original shape
  • Septal perforation or a permanent hole in your septum