Ever heard of balloon sinus dilation?
Well if you haven’t, do not fret, dear friend. I was in the exact same boat as you until pretty recently!
However, the opportunity came along for me to learn all about balloon sinus dilation, also referred to as balloon sinuplasty, from Southern California’s top ENT specialist (ears, nose, and throat), Dr. Farhad Sigari.
In my last post, I briefly mentioned balloon sinus dilation. But this time around, I’m giving you the full scoop to help spread the word on this relatively new treatment.
You can check out my previous post here! (and if you like it, feel free to share it with friends via social media )
So whether you’re the one suffering from chronic sinus issues, or you know someone who’s struggling with them, you’ll definitely want to keep reading.
Alright! Let’s do this.
1. What the Heck is Balloon Sinus Dilation?
Yeah, before Dr. Sigari explained balloon sinus dilation to me, I was pretty clueless. When I first heard the term, “balloon sinus dilation,” I just envisioned a doctor shoving the same long balloons clowns use to create their balloon animals up a patient’s nostrils.
Needless to say, that’s not what happens during the procedure.
Balloon sinus dilation is often a game changer for people suffering from chronic or recurring sinusitis.
For those unfamiliar with sinusitis, Dr. Sigari’s practice, Del Rey Sinus and Allergy Institute, describes it as “chronic inflammation of the mucous membrane inside your nose and sinus cavities” lasting at least a week.
When nasal passages become swollen and inflamed, they prevent mucus from draining properly. This, in turn, can cause that gunk to back up in the sinuses.
Enter balloon sinus dilation. This procedure opens up the patient’s blocked passageways allowing the built up mucus to drain normally.
They truly can be life-changing.
I mean, when you read one review after another saying things like, “Now I can fully breathe,” “I feel like a brand new person,” or “I never thought I would feel [normal] again,” you begin to understand how remarkable balloon sinuplasty is.
One patient of Dr. Sigari’s said he never realized just how much his sinus issues were affecting everyday life until after the procedure.
2. The Way the Procedure Works
It’s actually rather straightforward. Dr. Sigari’s website explains the process in an easy to understand manner.
“After locating the treatment area and applying local anesthesia, your physician will place the small balloon, inflate the balloon to dilate the treatment area, and then deflate and remove the balloon.” Even though you are conscious throughout, you won’t feel a thing. If that happens to freak you out, you’re able to take something beforehand to relax you.
The entire experience, from your prep time to a final look see after the procedure, should’t take any more than 2 hours total.
Oh, and the doctor performs the treatment right there in his office so no going to a hospital! Talk about super convenient.
3. Who May Benefit from Balloon Sinus Dilation?
Ok, so from what I’ve read and heard, I’m willing to bet there’s quite a few people considered good candidates who are completely unaware of the fact that a.) what they’re dealing with is actually fixable and b.) balloon sinuplasty even exists!
Dr. Sigari told me many of his patients suffered from sinusitis symptoms for years before finding the Los Angeles-based ENT.
Yup, you read that right. Years!
But why on earth would someone choose to put up with years of sinusitis misery when a minimally invasive procedure is out there to provide them relief?
The thing is people tend to assume their symptoms are your basic, run of the mill allergies, or some annoying head cold, when in actuality, it’s sinusitis.
These folks don’t see a doctor simply because they believe they already know what the issue is, and figure little, if anything, can really be done to help.
So, what are some typical symptoms of sinusitis:
- Sense of smell and/or taste that has gone down the toity
- Pressure and/or pain in the sinuses (affected areas might include the forehead, between and behind eyes, sides of nose, cheekbones, etc.)
- Dragon breath
- Pain in upper teeth
- They’re long-lasting (symptoms hang around anywhere from a week or two, to months)
Once your symptoms reach the 7-10 day mark, you might want to schedule a doctor’s appointment.
Usually, balloon sinuplasty is not the first line of defense for sinusitis. Doctor’s may suggest natural remedies (e.g., Nedi Pot, vaporizers, etc.), over-the-counter treatments, or prescription meds before surgery even enters the picture.
Nevertheless, if those methods end up being a big fat failure, balloon sinus dilation might just be your best bet.
One thing to keep in mind though. As I pointed out in my last post, not all doctors are created equal. Try to do a bit of research when hunting for an ENT.
Now, if you’re not having much luck finding a reputable specialist near you, toss around the idea of traveling outside your city for treatment. It’s more common than one might think.
For example, you’ll find a number of Dr. Sigari’s patients who not only live throughout the U.S., but all over the world! Based on that fact alone just goes to show how talented he is.
And since Dr. Sigari accepts most insurance plans, the patient’s travel is the majority of the cost.
Above all else, his patients gain peace of mind knowing they’re receiving the best care around.
4. Advantages of Balloon Sinus Dilation Over Traditional Sinus Surgery
Before balloon sinus dilation became FDA-approved in 2005, other than medications, the only treatment for chronic or recurrent sinusitis was traditional sinus surgery. Now although I’ve never experienced either of the above procedures, in my opinion, balloon sinus dilation sounds like cake pops and unicorn rides in comparison.
For starters, balloon sinuplasty is much less invasive as opposed to sinus surgery where “an opening is made into the sinus from inside the mouth or through the skin of the face” to unblock the sinus.
Also, a little earlier I brought up that a patient is under local anesthesia during balloon sinus dilation. Local anesthesia deadens just the area being worked on, leaving the rest of the bod alone.
Whereas regular ole sinus surgery requires general anesthesia. This type of anesthesia both knocks the patient out cold and numbs them up from head to toe.
While general anesthesia is much safer than it used to be, local anesthesia has a lower risk for complications.
Another not-so-hot quality of traditional sinus surgery is the fact there’s more bleeding involved. And in order to keep the blood situation under control, typically the sinuses are “packed.” Yowza!
Next up, the recovery period. After a patient receives balloon sinus dilation, many times they can go about their daily activities the very next day! The next day, you guys! With sinus surgery however, Medtronic states it can “take several weeks for [a patient] to fully recover.”
If you are one of the millions dealing with sinus issues, consider seeing an ENT, assuming that you’re not under the care of one already (Psst…don’t forget to spend a little time researching doctors to find the best one for your needs!).
Even if you think you’ve figured out what’s ailing you after performing an online search!
See, when people self-diagnose their conditions, they are more liable to be, um, well, wrong. Many Dr. Google’s (I am 100% guilty of playing the Dr. Google role, btw) fail to realize a medically trained doctor takes certain factors into account, which may lead a diagnosis in a different direction. In other words, leave it to the professionals, yo.
I get it though. So much easier said than done.
And friends, if you learned a thing or two from this post, please consider passing it along! I would be so grateful.