Could Sinus Surgery Lead to Death?

If you’re struggling with sinus problems, you are not alone. According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), more than 30 million Americans are diagnosed with a sinus problem every year, equaling roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population. And in a separate study published by the National Institute of Health, more than 250,000 of those struggling with a sinus condition will undergo surgery to relieve pressure and other symptoms that can make breathing difficult. That aside, many people who would otherwise consider sinus surgery have expressed concerns regarding safety and whether or not these procedures would endanger their lives. In this article, we will take a closer look at sinus surgery and the risks involved.


When it comes to sinus surgery, there is no such thing as a one size fits all approach. Depending on the severity of your sinus problems, the surgeon will recommend one of the following types of sinus surgery procedures:

  • Sinus ostial dilation
  • Turbinate reduction
  • Functional endoscopic sinus surgery
  • Balloon sinuplasty

It is important to note that all of these surgical procedures are considered a last resort, meaning they are only recommended if individuals have not responded to other treatment modalities, such as nasal antihistamines, nasal corticosteroids, and over-the-counter remedies. That said, the most commonly performed sinus surgery is functional endoscopic sinus surgery, a minimally invasive procedure that restores sinus ventilation and function.

According to American Family Physician, a biweekly peer-reviewed medical journal, the success rate associated with this specific sinus surgery is between 80 to 90 percent. All other forms of sinus surgery are similarly effective and boast equally high success rates as well. That said, you will want to work with an ENT (ear nose and throat) doctor who can help you choose the best procedure for your specific sinus problem.


The consultation with your prospective ENT doctor is critical to the success of your sinus surgery procedure. For example, during a consultation at Becker Ear, Nose, and Throat center, the physician will go over your medical history to better understand the underlying cause of your sinus problem and decide if surgery is appropriate. In many cases, these consultations will include a physical exam, which can help rule out other health problems that can contribute to your sinus problems, such as a deviated septum or allergies, for example.


Now that we have a basic understanding of the type of sinus surgery procedures available, let’s take a closer look at what you can expect if you have to undergo one of these procedures yourself. Although there are multiple sinus surgery options available, there are only a few nuances that make one procedure different than the next. That said, in all cases, the following will take place:

  • You will be given local or general anesthesia.
  • The physician will place a miniature telescope into your sinuses, enabling them to observe how they perform as you breathe.
  • The physician will then work to remove any obstruction that may be impacting your breathing, such as polyps that may have formed on your sinuses.

Even though you will be under local or general anesthesia, you will most likely still experience some pressure, but the procedure itself is not overly painful. Following surgery, your physician will advise you on steps that you can take to minimize infection and to speed healing.


One of the biggest reasons that many people put off sinus surgery, even though it can help improve their breathing, is because they are concerned about surgical complications or the possibility of dying as a result of undergoing such procedures. If you share any of these concerns, you’re encouraged to continue reading. When it comes to any form of surgery, there are certain inherent risks involved, and surgical sinus procedures are no different in this regard. That said, the death rate associated with any variation of sinus surgery is very low.

According to a study published by the National Institute of Health, one of the world’s foremost medical research centers, the mortality rate associated with sinus surgery is 0.6 percent while the complication rate, on the other hand, is 4.6 percent. In short, you are more likely to experience a complication as a result of undergoing sinus surgery than you are to die from the procedure. That said, some of the common complications associated with sinus surgery include

  • Excessive bleeding
  • A decreased sense of smell
  • A high fever following surgery
  • Developing an infection at the incision site

Of course, your physician will do everything in their power to minimize complications during the procedure itself; however, it is critical that you also follow their recommendations for recovering once you return home as well.


Generally, it can take 5 to 7 days to heal after sinus surgery. Therefore, you will want to avoid strenuous activities during this time to minimize bleeding and possible infections. And while it may be difficult to resist the urge to do so, you will also want to avoid blowing your nose during this time as doing so can irritate the sinuses and prolong healing. As far as pain management is concerned, most doctors will provide patients with prescription-based medication, namely corticosteroids, to help with inflammation.

Beyond that, your doctor may advise you to take over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen, for example, to further minimize post-surgery pain and discomfort. To remove dried blood and mucus from the nasal cavity, you will want to use a saline spray as directed by your physician. A critical component of your overall healing includes scheduling follow-up appointments with your physician, which are necessary to ensure that you are properly healing. During this time, your physician will also remove the nasal packs that were inserted during surgery and clear your nasal passages of any residual dried blood or mucus.


If you believe that you could benefit from sinus surgery, you shouldn’t allow fear to keep you from getting the treatment that you need. The complications and also the death rate associated with these surgical procedures are extremely low relative to their high success rate. To learn more about sinus surgery or to schedule a consultation, consider speaking with one of our helpful representatives today.

Lija is a Blogger and Staff Writer for Bizmaa focusing on business analytics, business systems, gadgets and other small business news. She has a background in information and communications technology coordination.