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What is Balloon Sinuplasty™?

By Garry Crystal
Updated May 17, 2024
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Balloon Sinuplasty™ is a Food & Drug Administration (FDA) cleared technique used by doctors to help sufferers of sinusitis. Sinusitis is a very common problem that affects around 37 million Americans each year. Sinusitis is an infection or inflammation of the passages that drain each of the sinuses around the nose and eyes. Sufferers of sinusitis can have debilitating headaches, facial pain and nasal congestion.

Balloon Sinuplasty™ is hailed as the middle ground between medication and surgery. It is a simple outpatient surgery that requires general anesthesia. Doctors begin by threading a guide wire catheter into the nostrils and up into the blockage. The catheter is equipped with a tiny balloon, which is inflated to about a quarter of an inch once inside the passage. The balloon is inflated just enough to open the passageway. Once the passageway is open, the balloon is deflated and withdrawn.

The positive side to Balloon Sinuplasty™ is that there are no incisions or cutting and therefore no bruising or swelling. Instead of cutting, the balloon fractures the bones and spreads them apart, allowing the sinuses to be drained. The only negative point doctors can see is that, because the brain is in close proximity to the sinuses, there may be a slight risk of injury. The frontal sinus is particularly challenging to ear, nose and throat surgeons.

The number of doctors around the country trained to perform Balloon Sinuplasty™ are increasing rapidly. Research is beginning to track the effectiveness of Balloon Sinuplasty™ and to determine who would be a good candidate for the operation. Balloon Sinuplasty™ will not completely eradicate the need for surgery. Many sinusitis sufferers have growths called polyps that the balloon can't get rid of. The balloon will not fit into every sinus, and severe sufferers may have bone inflammation that must be removed, not just pushed aside.

Nevertheless, Balloon Sinuplasty™ is hailed as the most exciting medical advance in the ear, nose and throat field in the last 15 years. The number of sufferers who can benefit from this type of operation is huge. Unlike the one time painful surgical operation, Sinuplasty™ may have to be repeated, but sinusitis sufferers have said that they would rather have a Balloon Sinuplasty™ five times than go through the more painful surgery once. With sinusitis causing sufferers pain for months on end, Sinuplasty™ could finally offer a way to end those painful sinuses.

Sinuplasty™ and Balloon Sinuplasty™ are the exclusive property of Acclarent, Inc. and may not be used without Acclarent, Inc.'s written consent.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By anon943655 — On Apr 02, 2014

I had this procedure done today and it was very painful. It felt like a sharp needle piercing through my sinuses.

By anon276684 — On Jun 25, 2012

Can sinuplasty be done by just the ENT along with deviated septum and polyps and spurs?

By anon256459 — On Mar 21, 2012

I just had this done today and I must say the relief really is immediate. It wasn't as easy as doctors claim, though for me it was purely because of my bone/sinus structure. The doctor had a hard time getting the balloon in correctly and had to try four times before succeeding.

The procedure did hurt (for me) but it wasn't excruciating. If you're planning on having this done and cannot tolerate the feeling of pulling and intense pressure, then opt for general anesthetic. It's more expensive and does come with risks,so definitely talk to your doctor to see what the best thing for you would be.

Personally, I wish I would have just been knocked out completely. Even with all the negatives I've experienced (and I am not a typical case) I really am glad I got this done. I can already breathe more easily and my sense of smell has improved.

By anon161634 — On Mar 20, 2011

i have frontal sinuses blocked and it is hard to breathe through my nose. My doctor recommended sinus surgery. Please advise if regular surgery is more effective or id balloon sinuplasty surgery is better. Also, who is the best ent surgeon in Boston? --Kay

By anon153550 — On Feb 17, 2011

Had this procedure completed by my Dallas ENT doctor, Dr. Trone. I am 100 percent migraine free since and even sleep better. The results are phenomenal.

By anon51307 — On Nov 04, 2009

i have had three sinus surgeries and many medications. my doctor wants to perform the balloon sinuplasty. i am 79 years old and this started about 5 years ago. i am a little frightened whether to go through with it or not. i have an excellent ENT doctor and i trust his suggestion but am still scared. any advice?

By anon25035 — On Jan 22, 2009

What a way to start a New year. Just had the balloon sinoplasty by Dr. Faw out of Evergreen Hospital in Kirkland, WA. A great experience from beginning to end. I had rhinoplasty (nose job) 20 years ago ( I'm 40 ) this is WAY easier. 1 day after surgery and just a bloody nose nothing more. Pain only 2 hours after surgery no pain since. Time will tell if this will really do the trick but after 4-6 sinus infections every year for the last 6 years I had to do something. Check youtube to see videos of it compared to the "Old" way where they cut you up and remove your parts. Good luck to all you sufferers. My Maxillary sinuses (behind cheek bones) were the most infected and this should help

By joebaur — On May 06, 2008

I had the surgery 9 months ago. I am a slim, healthy 50 year old and awoke every morning of my life with stuffy nose, unable to breathe through one nostril. Had colds, allergies, sore throats 4 or 5 times every winter. Always blowing nose and sniffling. Since surgery I have awoken every day with perfectly clear nose. It amazes me each morning! No illnesses or hint of a cold sore throat since surgery. No allergy symptoms. I can smell all foods and flowers. My first spring since balloon sinuplasty and it smells wonderful. I also had nasal polyps removed and deviated septum corrected. I do recommend it.

By JanaFed — On Jan 01, 2008

I have been using Vicks 12-hour nose spray for years just to be able to breathe through my nose for awhile. How do I know if I'm a good candidate for this surgery?

By anon6498 — On Dec 31, 2007


i would like to know if the Balloon sinuplasty technology is good for the Maxillary Sinus and where can I read articles regarding this procedure?

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