Polyps are noncancerous (benign) growths that may resemble a cluster of grapes. They may be located near the front of your nose or farther back, in your sinuses.
Nasal polyps can cause symptoms that impact your quality of life, such as:
- loss of smell
- nasal pressure
- sinus infections
Surgery is usually considered only when other treatments don’t alleviate these symptoms.
Surgery to remove nasal polyps is known as nasal polypectomy.
This may not be appropriate if you smoke or have a history of bleeding concerns or conditions like severe pulmonary or cardiac problems. A healthcare professional can recommend whether polypectomy is right for you.
And while your symptoms may dramatically improve, polyps often grow back gradually.
Nasal polyp surgery removes polyps from the lining of your nasal and sinus passageways. The procedure you’ll require depends on where the polyps are located.
For larger polyps located in the front of your nose, a doctor may be able to remove them in the office using an instrument called a microdebrider. It debrides (removes tissue) and suctions loosened material at the same time.
Alternately, your doctor might remove the polyps using small graspers. This process is called an intranasal polypectomy.
For polyps that are very small in size, more extensive, located deeper in your nasal cavity, or complicated in other ways, you may require a nasal polypectomy in an operating room with anesthesia.
For this minimally invasive surgery, your doctor will use an endoscope, which is a small tube with a light and camera at the end. With the endoscope, your doctor will identify polyps, then remove them using small instruments.
How long does it take
Nasal polyp surgery itself usually lasts a few hours. If you’re undergoing general anesthesia, you may spend the day in surgery preparation and postsurgery recovery.
In most cases, you should be able to go home the same day as your surgery. Some people may need to stay at the hospital overnight.
Make sure you’ve arranged for a ride home and for someone to stay with you overnight to help monitor your condition.
What to expect
Nasal polyp surgery is conducted at a hospital or an outpatient facility. You may be prepped by a nurse or an anesthesiologist before undergoing your operation.
A surgeon performs nasal polypectomy entirely through your nose. Unlike other types of surgery, no incisions are made to access the polyps. You’ll need local or possibly general anesthesia, depending on the extent of the extractions from your nasal cavities.
With an endoscopic nasal polypectomy, the surgeon inserts a thin tube with a small camera into your nasal cavity. This helps them see the polyps more clearly, especially when the growths are located deep in your cavities.
Once your surgeon locates the polyps, they’ll remove them with a microdebrider or surgical graspers.
The complication rate from nasal polyp surgery is lower than for general sinus surgery. You may notice slight bleeding from your nose for the few weeks.
Your surgeon might arrange a follow-up visit about a week after the surgery to check how your nasal passages are healing and remove any crusts. They may also place steroid-eluting stents in your nasal cavity.
These stents are placed to stop inflammation and slow or prevent the growth of new polyps. A healthcare professional will remove them in follow-up visits.
You’ll likely start feeling better within a few days. You may want to take up to 1 week off from work to recover, if possible.
After nasal polyp surgery, the doctor will likely recommend using a saline spray several times a day. They may also prescribe:
- systemic steroids
- topical steroids
- nasal saline rinses, like a neti pot
Rare complications of nasal polyp surgery include:
- tear duct damage (nasolacrimal duct injury)
- vision loss
- injury to the skull base
- severe side effects from general anesthesia
The cost of a nasal polypectomy will vary depending on:
- the time it takes to perform the procedure
- whether you require general anesthesia
- whether additional items like drug-eluting stents are inserted
- your doctor’s fees
- your insurance
You may consider weighing the cost of this surgery versus other treatments.
Surgery can sometimes treat nasal polyps when steroid drops or sprays don’t relieve symptoms. Unfortunately, it’s common for polyps to come back despite surgery.
One small 12-year study of people who underwent nasal polyp surgery found that nearly 80 percent developed recurring growths. Despite the high recurrence, people who had the surgery said they experienced significant symptom reduction and improved quality of life.
It’s not possible to predict when polyps will return. You should see your doctor right away if you start to experience symptoms again. They can help you determine whether it’s best to follow up with additional surgery or to treat nasal polyps with medication.
If you have chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps, your doctor may suggest the biologic monoclonal antibodies dupilumab (Dupixient) or omalizumab (Xolair).
Some research suggests that these agents may be more effective at addressing symptoms than steroids and may reduce the need for surgery.
Surgery can successfully remove nasal polyps and reduce symptoms.
You may experience bleeding from your nose for the first few weeks. You should also be prepared for the possibility that polyps may eventually return.
Nasal polyps are very common benign growths. Despite being benign, they can lead to a host of uncomfortable symptoms that may interfere with your daily life.
If your symptoms don’t respond to traditional treatments, surgery may be an option.
Nasal polyp surgery is tolerated well by most people with this condition. It’s important to talk with your doctor about risks and side effects.
There’s a chance your nasal polyps will grow back after surgery. Your doctor will help you decide whether the post-surgery benefits will outweigh such risks.