Nasal polyps are soft, non-cancerous growths that sometimes develop in nasal or sinus passages.
They appear similar to tiny teardrops or grapes. Caused by chronic inflammation, they are associated with allergies, asthma, nasal or sinus infections, certain immune disorders, and medication sensitivity. If initial treatment efforts aren’t effective, you may benefit from a polypectomy, which is the surgical removal of nasal polyps.
When Is a Polypectomy Recommended?
It is possible to have nasal polyps without experiencing any symptoms. However, a polypectomy may be recommended if you are having difficulty breathing through your nose because of large or chronically swollen polyps. Prior to taking this step, allergy skin tests may be done to determine if you may have undiagnosed allergies.
In some cases, managing allergies or issues related to chronic sinus infections reduces polyp irritation enough to improve airflow. Polyp removal is likely to become an option under the following circumstances:
- You’re not responding well to nasal corticosteroids
- Other medication isn’t helpful either
- Large nasal polyps are contributing to sleep apnea and other serious breathing-related issues
- You are experiencing a loss of the sense of smell or taste
- Other conservative treatments haven’t been effective
How Is It Performed?
A polypectomy is usually performed with endoscopic techniques under general anesthesia. During the procedure, a small, lighted tube with a magnifying lens will be inserted through your nostrils. Special instruments are used to remove the polyps. Suction instruments are used as well to remove fluids and keep your airways clear.
The duration of the procedure will depend on how many polyps need to be removed. During the same procedure, your nasal passages or sinus cavities may be enlarged to further improve your ability to breathe without difficulty. This additional step is likely to be taken if you also have issues with recurring sinus infections.
What Happens After a Polypectomy?
After a polypectomy procedure is completed, your nose will be packed with dressing to prevent excessive bleeding as your nasal tissues heal. Surgery of this nature is usually done on an outpatient basis at UCI’s Sinus Surgery Center, which means you should be able to go home the same day.
You may also be given a corticosteroid nasal spray to use to reduce your risk of developing polyps again. Additionally, you may be advised to do a saltwater (saline) rinse daily to help your nasal tissues heal. You’ll feel a “blocked” or “stuffed up” feeling in your nose after a polypectomy, but this is normal and will go away over time. As you recover, you may be advised to:
- Avoid blowing your nose for a few days after surgery
- Use over-the-counter pain medication to ease any discomfort
- Avoid exposure to nasal irritants as your nasal tissues heal
It usually takes a few weeks to fully recover from a polypectomy. Responding well to the removal of nasal polyps doesn’t mean they might not come back at some point in the future. However, you can reduce this risk by being proactive about managing contributing conditions like allergies and asthma. It can also help to wash your hands and adopt other good hygiene practices so you don’t unintentionally spread germs to your nasal passages that may contribute to infections.