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Fess (Functional Endoscopic Sinus Surgery)

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Mar 5, 2023.

What do I need to know about functional endoscopic sinus surgery (FESS)?

FESS removes tissue that blocks your sinus openings. This helps improve airflow and restores normal sinus function.

How do I prepare for FESS?

  • Your surgeon will tell you how to prepare for surgery. He or she may tell you not to eat or drink anything after midnight on the day of your surgery. Arrange to have someone drive you home and stay with you for 24 hours.
  • Tell your surgeon about all medicines you currently take. He or she will tell you if you need to stop any medicine for surgery, and when to stop. He or she will tell you which medicines to take or not take on the day of surgery.
  • Tell your surgeon about any allergies you have, including to medicines or anesthesia.

What will happen during FESS?

  • You will be given general anesthesia to keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Your surgeon will use an endoscope and other small tools. Tissue that is blocking your sinus openings will be removed. A small rotating burr may also be used to widen your sinuses or scrape away tissue.
  • Samples of the tissues that are removed may be sent to the lab for tests. Bleeding will be controlled using a cauterizing device. Nasal packing, such as gauze or cotton, will be placed in your nostrils to help control bleeding and prevent infection.

What should I expect after FESS?

  • You may have some pain, swelling, bruising, or bleeding after surgery. Your nose may feel stuffy. You may notice crusting. These are all normal and should get better within a few days to weeks.
  • Medicines may be given to prevent or treat pain, swelling, or a bacterial infection. Steroid medicine for swelling may be given as a spray. Your surgeon will tell you when to start using the spray, and how often to use it.
  • You may be shown how to do nasal washes with saline. You may need to do this 2 times each day.
  • You will need to go to regular follow-up visits for up to 3 months. Your surgeon will check to make sure the surgery area is healing well.
  • Your nasal cavity may need to be cleaned and have scar tissue removed. This may happen more than 1 time. A spacer or stent may be placed to keep the area open.
  • Your surgeon will tell you when it is okay to drive and do your daily activities after surgery.

What are the risks of FESS?

You may bleed more than expected or get an infection. Your eyes, blood vessels, nerves, or other areas may get injured during surgery. You may have trouble breathing or develop rhinosinusitis again.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your healthcare providers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment. The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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