Balloon Sinuplasty Seattle

Sinus surgery–as a method of treating sinusitis–is still a relatively new surgical procedure. ENT surgeons perfecting modern sinus surgery techniques in the 1980s. However, it was in the 1990s and 2000s that sinus surgery became a viable way to treat chronic sinus symptoms. Sinus surgeons continue to innovate upon sinus surgery techniques to minimize trauma and make sinus surgery even more effective. One of these innovations is balloon sinuplasty, also known as balloon sinus surgery. As a master of his craft, Dr. David Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle offers the best balloon sinuplasty Seattle provides.


Balloon sinuplasty is a sinus surgery method that uses an inflatable catheter (aka a “balloon”) to widen the sinus passageways. It is a less invasive alternative to traditional sinus surgery and can treat more mild cases of congestion and inflammation. This involves manual draining and leaves the sinuses in a good condition to promote future draining.

Compared to other methods of sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty is relatively new. The procedure was approved by the FDA in 2005 and otolaryngologists have performed the surgery since to treat rhinosinusitis and sinusitis.

When It’s Performed

Balloon sinuplasty treats chronic sinus problems. Most of the time, the surgery addresses chronic sinusitis and chronic rhinosinusitis. Since the surgery does not involve removing large amounts of tissue from the sinuses, it typically will not remove nasal polyps. The procedure focuses on restructuring the sinuses to restore normal sinus drainage.

For chronic sinus conditions, surgery is often the last resort. This includes balloon sinuplasty. When symptoms become severe or do not respond to treatment, Dr. Santos may recommend surgery. If a CT scan shows a structural issue or blockage, this is when balloon sinuplasty may address your needs best.

You may see improvement in the following symptoms and conditions after balloon sinus surgery:

  • Sinus headaches
  • Facial pain
  • Sinus pressure
  • Postnasal drip
  • Congestion
  • Breathing problems
  • Snoring
  • Sore throat (usually associated with postnasal drip)
  • Recurrent sinus infections



Sinus Surgery Safety

Since doctors have only performed balloon sinuplasty widely since the mid-2000s, some patients worry about undergoing a relatively new procedure. With FDA approval in 2005, balloon sinus surgery has become one of the most common sinus surgeries. It is considered an extremely safe and effective procedure, especially when performed by a board-certified otolaryngologist like Dr. Santos.

Every surgery comes with inherent risk. Typical surgical risks such as infection, bleeding, and complications of anesthesia are possible. While more serious risks are possible, they are exceptionally rare.

Dr. Santos takes every possible safety precaution. He screens patients to ensure they have a low risk of complications, discusses the best anesthesia choice, and prescribes medications to prevent infection.


Balloon sinus surgery–while similar to endoscopic sinus surgery–has many notable differences as to when and how it is performed. First off, the main similarity between the two is that both surgeries do not require external incisions. They also are performed entirely through the nostrils. Balloon sinuplasty and traditional sinus surgery also generally treat the same conditions. The table below details some of the major differences between the two procedures.

Balloon Sinuplasty Endoscopic Sinus Surgery
  • Usually a shorter surgery
  • Less recovery time
  • Little or no sinus tissue removed
  • Sinus openings widened and restructured
  • Will not remove nasal polyps on its own
  • May better treat recurrent acute sinusitis
  • Best for treating structural problems in the sinuses
  • Trustworthy, gold standard of sinus surgery
  • Involves a longer procedure and recovery on average
  • Sinus tissue removed
  • Can remove polyps
  • Better for more severe cases of chronic sinusitis
  • More extensive surgery
  • May provide longer lasting results in patients with chronic sinusitis

Ultimately, the best Seattle sinus surgery for you is best determined during a consultation with Dr. Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle. The determination of which procedure is best will depend on the cause of your sinusitis. If it is a structural issue or mild sinusitis without nasal polyps, balloon sinus surgery may work for you.





During a consultation, Dr. Santos will ask about your sinus problems, treatments you have tried, and perform a physical exam. He may also inquire about your medical history and past surgeries. If necessary, Dr. Santos may want a CT scan or nasal endoscopy to determine the cause of your sinus problems.

After the discussion and any tests, Dr. Santos will discuss your treatment options. This may include surgical or non-surgical options depending on your needs and history. If he believes balloon sinus surgery in Seattle will provide relief, he will describe the surgery and expected results.


Balloon Sinus Surgery

If you choose to undergo sinus surgery with Dr. Santos, you will come to Sinusitis In Seattle’s outpatient surgery center. You will go home the same day of surgery. On average, you can expect the procedure to take less than an hour.

Some balloon sinuplasty procedures utilize local anesthesia with IV sedation and others may use general anesthesia. Dr. Santos can discuss these options at your consultation. After placed under anesthesia, Dr. Santos will begin surgery. 

First, Dr. Santos will insert a balloon catheter and other instruments into the nostril. The procedure may or may not use an endoscope, though, unlike endoscopic sinus surgery, this is purely for visibility. Maneuvering the balloon into the inflamed sinus cavity, Dr. Santos will slowly inflate the balloon. The balloon will expand the tissues and bone to allow for a wider opening. 

After widened, Dr. Santos will spray a saline solution into the sinus cavity to wash away mucus, pus, and allergens. Once properly flushed, Dr. Santos will remove the instruments. The wider opening should promote better drainage to prevent congestion and reduce symptoms.



Recovery after balloon sinuplasty is generally shorter and easier than traditional sinus surgery. You will need to avoid strenuous exercise and activity for a week. Dr. Santos may prescribe a specialized saline rinse starting one to two days following surgery. It may commence for up to a week. 

You may notice some bloody discharge, especially when rinsing. This is normal and will subside slowly over the next week or so. Your nose and sinuses may also continue to be congested during recovery.  Patients can usually return to normal activities a week after balloon sinus surgery. Some may return to work sooner on a case-by-case basis.

Dr. Santos may prescribe pain medication if needed. Although, many patients do not find a need for prescription painkillers after sinus surgery. There is rarely major pain associated with balloon sinuplasty.


What Type Of Anesthesia Is Used?

Dr. Santos may utilize either local or general anesthesia during balloon sinus surgery. Local anesthesia often significantly reduces risk and can lead to an easier recovery. However, there are some cases where general anesthesia may be necessary. You can discuss this with Dr. Santos at a consultation. 

Among one of the pioneers of local anesthesia during sinus procedures and facial plastic surgery, Dr. Santos is experienced with using local anesthesia. He can perform surgery with less risk and side effects.

Is Balloon Sinus Surgery Painful?

You should not feel pain during the procedure. If under local anesthesia, you may feel some slight pressure, but generally this is minimal during the inflation of the balloon. Following surgery, many patients manage their pain with Tylenol and similar over-the-counter pain medications. If you have major pain after surgery, you should inform Dr. Santos.

How Long Does It Take?

Most of the time, balloon sinuplasty takes less than one hour to perform. If Dr. Santos needs to access more than one sinus cavity, this may add time. Even so, balloon sinus surgery is a relatively short surgery.

Occasionally, Dr. Santos may combine a balloon sinus surgery with another procedure such as a septoplasty, or functional rhinoplasty. These are generally combined with more extensive sinus surgeries. However, there are cases where they may improve the results of your balloon sinuplasty.

Does Insurance Pay For Balloon Sinuplasty?

Your medical insurance may cover some or all of your balloon sinuplasty surgery. This is best discussed with your insurance company. Sinusitis In Seattle can help answer any questions you may have about financing and finding coverage for your sinus surgery.


Dr. David Santos is a board-certified otolaryngologist and facial plastic surgeon. He has three decades of experience performing sinus surgery. Dr. Santos also served as the Chief of Staff for the Department of Otolaryngology at Valley Hospital for eight years. This makes Dr. Santos is among the best sinus surgeons in Seattle.

Dr. Santos focuses on providing low risk, minimally invasive sinus surgery to treat and alleviate the symptoms of various sinus conditions. Along with using local anesthesia which can reduce surgery risk and lessen recovery, Dr. Santos also uses the most advanced techniques to provide the best balloon sinuplasty Seattle offers.

Sinusitis In Seattle offers the gold standard of sinus treatment to the Greater Seattle area. Located just south of Seattle, Sinusitis In Seattle offers a convenient and professional environment for your balloon sinuplasty. To learn more or schedule a consultation, call us at 206-242-3696. You can also reach us online via our contact form.

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