Endoscopicsinus surgery

Using this guide What's covered

Here you’ll find answers to many of your questions about endoscopic sinus surgery, also known as functional endoscopic sinus surgery. Learn how it’s done, what it may cost, what your recovery may be like, and more.

For personal insights, see our patient experience videos in which HCF members talk frankly about their preparation, surgery and recovery.

Cost indicator

Discover the typical out-of-pocket costs HCF members can expect to pay for sinus surgery and learn how your choice of surgeon and hospital affect that cost.


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What are the nasal sinuses?

Your sinuses (known as paranasal sinuses) are cavities inside your skull that are connected to your nose. Your sinuses are lined with a mucus-producing membrane and tiny hairs (cilia). The sinuses are the start of your airway, which includes your lungs. They are responsible for filtering, warming and humidifying the air we breathe so that it’s easier for our lungs to extract oxygen. 

The mucus protects your nose from pollutants, germs, dust and dirt while the tiny hairs slowly move the mucus towards the back of your throat where it can be swallowed. You can produce up to 1.5 litres of mucous a day. 

You have 4 pairs of nasal sinuses: maxillary, frontal, ethmoid and sphenoid sinuses.

Your sinuses can give you several problems which we call ‘sinusitis.’ It can be caused by inflammation, infection, dental problems or very rarely a tumour.

Sinusitis can cause problems with breathing, nasal discharge, disturbances in smell and taste, facial pressure and, very rarely, pain or headaches. Sinusitis is classified as acute (when symptoms resolve within 4 weeks) or chronic (when symptoms last for more than 12 weeks).

There are a number of treatments for sinus problems, however, if they haven’t worked you may need sinus surgery.

What is endoscopic sinus surgery?

Endoscopic sinus surgery involves removing soft tissue and bone to enlarge the opening of your sinuses, reduce inflammation and restore normal function. It allows better penetration of medical treatments, such as salt-water rinses and steroid sprays, into your nose and sinuses. It may also include removing nasal polyps, reducing nasal turbinates and straightening your nasal septum.

How is it done?

The surgery is usually performed through your nostrils. Your surgeon views the inside of your nose through a nasal endoscope which has a camera and light on the tip. After viewing the problem area, your surgeon works to widen the natural openings of your sinuses and create more space.



Alternatives to sinus surgery

There may be alternatives depending on your condition.
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Types of sinus surgery

Sinus surgery is used to treat a number of different sinus problems.
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Results vs risks of the procedure

The benefits and potential complications of sinus surgery.
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Choosing a specialist

How to find an ear, nose and throat surgeon who specialises in the procedure.
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Questions for your doctor

What you should ask before going ahead with sinus surgery.
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Preparing for your surgery

Pre-operative tests and preparation.
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Your anaesthetic options

The types of anaesthetic and post-op pain relief you may be offered.
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Your surgery

Going to hospital

What to expect on the day of your surgery.
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Your surgery

What happens in the operating theatre.
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After your surgery

Your hospital stay.
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Resuming activities and watching for problems.
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Patient experiences

People who’ve had a sinus surgery talk about their preparation, surgery and recovery.


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Did you find this guide helpful? Let us know what you liked or what we can do to improve it. We'd love to hear from you.

To provide feedback, email us at wellbeing@hcf.com.au.

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Information is provided by HCF in good faith for the convenience of members. It is not an endorsement or recommendation of any form of treatment nor is it a substitute for medical advice, and you should rely on the advice of your treating doctors in relation to all matters concerning your health. Every effort has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, however HCF takes no responsibility for any injury, loss, damage or other consequences of the use of this information.