Functional Sinus Surgery Seattle

The majority of people with sinus problems will not undergo sinus surgery. Most sinus infections clear within a few weeks. However, for a few million people every year, sinus symptoms will become troublesome and chronic. These long lasting symptoms can interfere with work and daily life by causing painful headaches, fatigue, and hindering breathing. In certain cases of chronic sinusitis, sinus surgery may become the recommended treatment plan. Many of these patients will undergo functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Dr. David Santos at Sinusitis In Seattle offers the best functional sinus surgery Seattle provides.


Before resorting to sinus surgery, your doctors and ENT will try non-surgical medical treatment for your sinusitis. These treatments are usually aimed at both completely eradicating symptoms and managing them. At first, your treatment will be focused on management. This is because most sinus infections clear on their own within ten to fourteen days. 

If they do not clear within two weeks, you will likely begin antibiotics. If symptoms persist for over two weeks, you may see a specialist. At this point, your sinusitis is considered subacute. Other treatments such as medicated nasal sprays, sinus irrigation, and allergy treatment may take place. 

Your ENT may also perform various tests to determine the cause of your sinusitis. These tests may include allergy testing, CT scans, and nasal endoscopy. If your symptoms become chronic and traditional therapies do not alleviate or reduce symptoms, Dr. Santos may recommend sinus surgery.

There are three main types of sinus surgery: endoscopic sinus surgery, balloon sinuplasty, and stealth sinus surgery. All of these types of surgery aim to correct sinus issues and improve quality of life. Endoscopic sinus surgery is by far the most involved of the three surgeries but is better at treating more severe cases.


Functional endoscopic sinus surgery, FESS, uses a fiberoptic tube and endoscope to better access and see the sinuses during surgery. It is most frequently performed to treat chronic sinusitis. Endoscopic sinus surgery is best suited for patients with more severe sinusitis or those with nasal polyps. Other forms of sinus surgery focus more on altering the anatomy of the sinuses, while functional sinus surgery focuses on manual draining, removing infected sinus tissue and polyps, and widening the sinuses via excision.

Functional sinus surgery is more invasive than other types of sinus surgery. However, it usually comes with better, long lasting results and is less invasive than older sinus surgery methods. Even with functional sinus surgery, patients normally do not feel too much pain during or after surgery.


Improvements On Sinus Surgery

Before using an endoscope for sinus surgery, the surgeon accessed the sinuses externally which left scars on the face and came with higher risk. Other methods included going through the gums or teeth to get to the maxillary sinuses. While the scarring here was minimized, this risked long term tooth numbness and carried more risk than modern sinus surgery.

Therefore, the development of the use of imaging technologies allowed ENT surgeons to enter sinus surgery with a better plan. This eventually let them operate without external incisions which decreases the risk and rate of infection following surgery. It also results in less trauma to the sinuses and surrounding tissue. Today’s sinus surgery removes less tissue than older methods. FESS, or functional endoscopic sinus surgery, leads to better outcomes and a shorter recovery time. 



Once a patient reaches the point that sinus surgery becomes their only option, they often find many benefits from the procedure. The main goal of the surgery is to alleviate or reduce sinusitis and rhinosinusitis symptoms. Most patients will see a reduction or complete cessation in their symptoms following surgery. Along with this, other benefits and advantages include:

  • Easier breathing
  • Improved sleep
  • Decreased incidences of bad breath
  • No external scarring
  • Short procedure
  • Clears nasal obstructions
  • Improvements in quality of life
  • Little downtime required
  • Can utilize local or general anesthesia
  • Little or no need for prescription painkillers
  • Can go home the same day
  • Low risk procedure
  • Minimally invasive


Candidates for functional sinus surgery typically have chronic sinusitis or other chronic sinus problem. This means that symptoms have lasted for more than three months without significant improvement in symptoms. At this point, chronic sinusitis likely has caused the patient to miss work or other obligations. It may also lead to painful and sometimes debilitating headaches and pain.

Good candidates for sinus surgery must also be general surgery candidates. While sinus surgery is less invasive and shorter than many other surgeries, Dr. Santos strives to perform the safest possible surgery. If patients have unmanaged conditions, this may interfere with their candidacy for sinus surgery. Generally, if health conditions are well managed and monitored, Dr. Santos can perform surgery.

Dr. Santos is ultimately the best person to determine if you are a candidate for sinus surgery. At a consultation, Dr. Santos will conclude whether you are a good candidate for sinus surgery.



Functional endoscopic sinus surgery utilizes a fiberoptic tube and endoscope to reach and gain a visual of the sinuses. After you are under anesthesia, Dr. Santos will insert the tube with an attached flashlight and endoscope into the nostrils. The tube also contains all of the necessary surgical instruments. 

Using the endoscope, Dr. Santos will work his way into the affected sinus cavity. He will remove infected tissue, polyps, and drain excess mucus. If necessary, Dr. Santos will repeat this process for other sinus cavities. In general, regardless of the number of sinuses that need to be treated, the surgery takes less than one hour.




Recovery after functional sinus surgery consists of some time off from work or school and exercise. Many patients begin feeling better the day after surgery, however, you likely will experience some congestion, headaches, or pain following surgery. While pain after sinus surgery is generally minimal and manageable, Dr. Santos recommends taking at least a few days off work. Patients usually return to work in a week or so.

It is okay to return to some daily activities a few days after surgery, such as household chores. You should refrain from anything too strenuous and avoid bending because this can increase pain or swelling. Any side effects like swelling, bruising, pain, and any bleeding should subside in about a week.

Dr. Santos will give you instructions for during your functional endoscopic sinus surgery recovery. This may include performing nasal irrigation, using medicated nose sprays, and elevating the head of your bed. He can discuss the specifics of your recovery during your consultation and subsequent appointments.



Will Surgery Cure My Sinus Problems?

A FESS procedure is often the last resort for people whose sinus symptoms do not improve with typical therapies. Functional endoscopic sinus surgery often leads to a reduction in symptoms, allowing patients to better manage their symptoms. Other patients may experience a complete cessation of major sinus symptoms after surgery. 

There is a small chance that sinus surgery will not result in significant change. This is extremely rare and Dr. Santos will fully evaluate you to determine the best surgical solution. If he does not believe sinus surgery will lead to improvement in your symptoms, he will discuss other options.

Why Is Endoscopic Sinus Surgery Called “Functional”?

The surgery is referred to as “functional” because it aims at improving the overall function of the sinuses. It addresses the root causes of both sinusitis and symptoms. It does this by draining the sinuses, removing tissue where necessary, correcting anatomical abnormalities, and removing nasal polyps. This technique usually addresses more severe cases where multiple factors may contribute.

When Will The Stuffiness Go Away?

After sinus surgery, patients are often stuffy and congested. This happens because of inflammation as a result of the surgery. Inflammation may occur in the nasal and sinus cavities. Normally, this resolves as you heal and most patients see their congestion go away after around a week.

Do Children Ever Undergo Sinus Surgery?

Yes, children do sometimes undergo sinus surgery. However, surgeons are generally more hesitant to perform functional endoscopic sinus surgery on children. Not only due to a higher level of difficulty and risk, but it is generally unnecessary. 

Children with chronic sinus symptoms often have a larger contributing factor such as allergies, asthma, or cystic fibrosis. If these conditions are properly treated, the child will often not need sinus surgery. Chronic sinusitis is also more common during puberty because the sinuses finish forming then. 

Due to underdeveloped sinus cavities and likely other conditions contributing, it is rare for children to undergo sinus surgery. In rare cases, a child may benefit from sinus surgery. When this happens, it is important to consult with an experienced ENT like Dr. Santos.

What Are Possible Complications?

General surgery complications such as infection can occur. Though, complications following sinus surgery are exceptionally rare. Other possible complications include visual problems, prolonged bruising or swelling, or a worsening of sinus symptoms. This is extremely rare. Dr. Santos takes every possible precaution to keep your Seattle sinus surgery as safe as possible.


Sinusitis In Seattle is a premier Ear, Nose, and Throat treatment and surgical center located just south of Seattle. With an on-site, ambulatory surgery center, Sinusitis In Seattle offers the best functional endoscopic sinus surgery in Seattle.

Dr. David Santos is an accomplished sinus surgeon with decades of experience in sinus surgery. He was among the first to adopt the newest techniques that allows for less recovery time and more effective surgery. He has performed hundreds of sinus surgeries and has served as an otolaryngology department head during his career.

To learn more and schedule a consultation, call us at 206-242-3696. You can also reach us online via our contact form.

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