Ever had the polyps in your sinuses removed?
April 4, 2005 2:55 PM   Subscribe

I've been told by my earn, nose and throat doctor that the polyps in my sinuses are huge and I should have them removed. Would those of you who've hade this surgery share how it went for you, and whether or not it improved anything?

Breathing through my nose has become very difficult in the past couple months. I finally went to the ENT and he said he can’t even see up my nose because the polyps are so big (I thought I just had a nasty sinus infection). He also said steroids probably wouldn’t help much, and they certainly won’t fix the problem. So, they’re out. This will be my first surgery (aside from having wisdom teeth removed), and I'm a bit nervous about the whole thing. Was your ability to breath through your nostrils significantly better after the surgery? Did your sense of smell or taste improve or worsen? Any negative, long-term problems resulting from the surgery?
posted by DakotaPaul to Health & Fitness (15 answers total)
I had sinus polyps removed just over three months ago as an unexpected "bonus" of jaw surgery (my surgeon had to move my upper jaw into its new, proper position, and the polyps were in the way slightly). For the first few weeks, I couldn't breathe through my nose at all (and I had a lot of bleeding down the back of my throat), though most of that had to do with sinus swelling related to the repositioning of the jaw.

Once all that passed after a few weeks, I noticed that I can consistently breathe through both nostrils for the first time in memory, which is awesome. Also, the shape of my nose actually changed -- between the jaw moving up a few mm and the polyps coming out, the bump/slightly hooky shape below the bridge of my nose flattened out almost completely. (It actually looks like I had a subtle nose job!) I have also noticed a slight improvement in my sense of taste.

I had always assumed that my breathing problems (and the hated bump) had come from a deviated septum and/or possible broken nose, but he confirmed that my septum was fine and the nose had never been broken -- both problems seemed solely related to the polyps (which had never been diagnosed before, by the way -- he discovered them only after he broke my upper jaw and started to move it into place).

Also, I noticed that these past couple of weeks when I was fighting a bit of a cold, for the first time ever it didn't turn into an ongoing sinus thing. I had a little chest congestion and a cough for awhile, but my sinuses were clear within a couple of days -- unheard of for me!
posted by scody at 3:25 PM on April 4, 2005

I had this problem about 15 years ago. Breathing through my nose had become nearly impossible, I had lost my senses of smell and taste. I lost about 30 pounds. This went on for about a year: on and off steroids, antihistamines and antibiotics. I finally relented to the surgery, being, well, scared of going under.

I went home that same day, nose packed with cotton/blood clotting foam... it took about a week until those dissolved and another week or so until one day it suddenly struck me that I could breathe and better yet! I could smell and taste.

I have not had a relapse of the polyps since then, I was told they could grow back over time. I have not regretted it at all. Life changing in fact. I had the old fashioned scalpel procedure instead of being done with a laser as I would think they do it now?
posted by Jazz Hands at 3:28 PM on April 4, 2005

My father had polyps removed from his sinuses as the first step to help his severe allergies. Everything went fine, and he's now on a regiment of allergy shots (which should hopefully keep them from returning). Although I don't see him all the time, I would say that it seems both his breathing and his (formerly) constant runny nose have both improved significantly.

I would warn you, though - removing polyps is a minor form of brain surgery, and the risks can be severe. Talk to your doctor seriously about what exactly these risks entail.
posted by muddgirl at 4:25 PM on April 4, 2005

If we're talking about allergic nasal polyps, then you'd be having a nasal polypectomy (that's the lingo to search for to find out more information).

A nasal polypectomy is not a minor form of brain surgery. The polyps are epithelial cells from the inside of your nose, not from your brain. I'm not sure what muddgirl is talking about.
posted by gramcracker at 5:44 PM on April 4, 2005

My best friend's experience was a lot like Jazz Hands'. He says it's changed his life. Mind you, the doctor said he'd never seen that many polyps in one person's head before. Good luck!
posted by kimota at 5:55 PM on April 4, 2005

Best medical thing that has ever happened to me!

I had the bleeding, drainage, and boogers for a while, but now my nose is ALWAYS clear. Like scody, my nose stays clear even through colds and such.
posted by bagels at 6:06 PM on April 4, 2005

Hmm well I had this surgery and I have to say it was awful. It was painful and there was no long term benefit at all. To be fair, I was a smoker at the time so maybe that interfered with the surgery's success...
posted by yodelingisfun at 9:04 PM on April 4, 2005

OMG, do it! I had polyps out in 2000, along with straightening my septum. One of the best things I ever did, quality-of-life-wise.

Mine was not very painful -- I think I took some Tylenol the first couple of days. My E.N.T. said he doesn't use lasers because there's little advantage and he felt there was some possible risk with lasers so close to the back of the eyeballs.

He also said packing the sinuses with gauze afterwards was barbaric. All I had were thin plastic splints to protect the septum for a week. When those were taken out, I just blew out some clots and was on my way to nose-breathing happiness. My days of panting and snuffling were over, and the perpetual cycle of sinusitis and infections was finally broken. BEST. DECISION. EVER!
posted by Tubes at 10:43 PM on April 4, 2005

yodeling: the polyps *can* recur. you might have to get them out again.
posted by gramcracker at 11:33 PM on April 4, 2005

Those who had success - can I ask if you live in a polluted city?

I am also considering it, but don't know if it's worth it if I will continue to be affected by pollution.
posted by lunkfish at 2:20 AM on April 5, 2005

Lunkfish, I live in L.A. -- though we haven't had much smog since I had the surgery in December.
posted by scody at 8:34 AM on April 5, 2005

Response by poster: Wow, thanks for all the responses. Of course, with the exception of yodelingisfun's experience, they're all positive, so that makes me feel better. :-) I'm really looking forward to actually breathing through my nose easily for the first time in years. I just hope that California's darn Central Valley air doesn't get them going again any time soon.
posted by DakotaPaul at 8:39 AM on April 5, 2005

I'm worried that I may have polips. I've been fighting what I've always assumed are allergies for years. I'm a daily 24-hour alergy medecine person, because if I don't take the stuff I have these sneeze "attacks" -- where I sneeze for a good half hour and get all dizzy from the head-jerking motions.

I've noticed loss of smell and taste, and every time a cold hits me, it hits me badly. This last one lasted about 2-3 weeks, and had my ears congested as well. Doctor on call at the immediate care center didn't think I had an infection, and told me to just stay on the decongestants. One night, during the sickness, I had pain in my ears so badly I actually cried out and woke up my wife.

Obviously, I don't want to go through that again. In general observation, would the doctor that I saw a couple of weeks ago have been able to see the polips, or would I need to see an ENT specialist in order to get that sort of diagnosis?
posted by thanotopsis at 9:08 AM on April 5, 2005

Another pro- nasal polypechtomy post, and I live in Toronto which is becoming the LA of the north. I had my polyps out a year ago. The experience of the surgery wasn't too awful, no serious pain just some discomfort with the dressings. The results are great in my case, nose breathing and a return of my previously absent sense of smell/taste.

Couple of pieces of advice:
- Follow the rules about not blowing your nose after the surgery carefully. I followed the rules to the letter rather than in spirit, and ended up back in hospital for a few days with some fairly major bleeding. Don't know if this was cause and effect, but I can tell you it was no fun. But even despite that I am very happy I had it done.

- It seems like nasal spray steroids are a pretty standard follow up to the surgery, and all the advice is that you take them for as long as they are prescribed (indefinitely in my case) and that you use them religiously. I had the surgery once before and the polyps recurred within a year, no steroids were prescribed and no one can tell me why. This time I'm using the steroid spray along with nasal rinse (Neilmed Sinus Rinse) which my ENT specialist recommended to maximise the effect of the steroids. Over a year later and no recurrence, so looks hopeful.

Good luck with the surgery if you decide to go ahead DakotaPaul.
posted by pasd at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2005

I had the surgery last August, and I am also enjoying the wonderful benefits of breathing again. I love my nose.

However I still cannot smell. My doctor warned me it might take up to a year, and I'm still banking on that. So far, I'll catch a whiff of something every few weeks (or longer) but then it goes away again. And I'm not just talking about a reduced sense of smell. I smell nothing. With small children in the house this is sometimes a good thing (vomit? poop? no problem!), but it has professional consequences since I teach culinary classes. 80% of taste is actually fragrance-- and I'm limited to sweet-salty-bitter-sour-umani. At least I get temperature and texture.

Even still, would I do it again? In a heartbeat. The surgery was painful and the recovery was awful. For the first two weeks I thought I'd rather have died on the operating table. But after that (and continuously until now) I'm completely sold. If/when they grow back, I'll opt for surgery again without hesitation.

On the steroid front: twice daily, without fail. I missed for a couple of weeks when my prescription ran out, and wham! I got a sinus infection. As long as I'm taking my roids, I have stayed infection free. Considering I was pretty much constantly infected for the year prior to surgery, this is so worth it.
posted by terceiro at 12:11 PM on April 5, 2005

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