People suffer for years with multiple sinus infections, not being able to fully breathe out of one or both sides of the nose, sinus pressure, and sinus headaches. They think there's not much to be done other than take OTC medications to try and mask the symptoms. Balloon Sinuplasty is a fast and easy, minimally invasive procedure that is performed in the office and gets patients feeling better overall with minimal down time. Dr. Suresh Raja discusses the procedure, who is a candidate, and shares some success stories.
Bill Klaproth (Host): So people suffer for years with multiple sinus infections, not being able to fully breathe out of one or both sides of the nose, sinus pressure, and sinus headaches. Does this sound familiar? Is this you? Do you think there’s not much to be done other than continue to take over-the-counter meds and try and mask the symptoms? Oh, man. It is tiresome, isn’t it? Well listen to this. Balloon sinuplasty is a fast and easy minimally invasive procedure that is performed in the office and can get you feeling better with minimal downtime. Most patients are back to work the next day. So let’s learn more about the balloon sinuplasty procedure and how it can change your life with Dr. Suresh Raja, an ENT doctor and otolaryngologist at Aspire Allergy and Sinus. This is Achoo, the podcast for people with allergies and sinus issues from Aspire Allergy and Sinus. I'm Bill Klaproth. Dr. Raja, so how does balloon sinuplasty work?
Suresh Raja, MD (Guest): Balloon sinuplasty is an office based procedure where we use a very small fiberoptic wire, generally under anesthesia, to find your own natural openings to your sinuses. Once we find the natural opening, we can tell that we found it because we see a very particular light pattern through the skin of your face and the fiber optic wire is inserted with the vision of a telescope through your nose. Once we find that particular light pattern, we pass a balloon over the wire and we inflate it to dilate your own natural sinuses so your sinuses breath better because your nose only works as well as your sinuses work.
Host: So basically your expanding someone’s existing sinus passage.
Dr. Raja: That’s correct. When we inflate the balloon it’s a fair amount of pressure so that when it compresses the structures that are surrounding the openings, it kind of smushes it against the hard skull bones of the face. Sort of like popping an air bubble packing strip. When we do that, we don’t remove any tissue but certainly have increased the volume. So it’s like that.
Host: Absolutely. So you're just taking what's already there that may be clogged or blocked and you're just taking that balloon, expanding it to allow air then to go through that sinus passageway.
Dr. Raja: That’s correct. It’s not just air, it’s the mucus. The way that I like to think about it is that it’s a very smart architectural rearrangement with what you were already given.
Host: I love how you put that. That’s really good. So then who is a good candidate for this?
Dr. Raja: Well, anybody who has a lot of trouble breathing through their nose on a consistent basis and people who suffer a great deal from maybe not being able to sleep so well because they can't breathe through their nose or people who get a lot of sinus pressure, front of the face headaches. Maybe someone who can't get off their over the counter medications for their allergy problems. I see a lot times people just are used to not breathing well. They take their medications and they don’t even know that something like this even exists to help them.
Host: So it sounds like you can rid yourself of over the counter items and finally achieve long lasting relief. Is that one of the main benefits of balloon sinuplasty?
Dr. Raja: I think so. Even the economics of all that over the counter medications on top of just not wanting to take things daily for many, many years. The main thing is even if you're allergic, a lot of times if it’s mainly a nose problem by getting your sinuses to breathe better your allergy symptoms improve massively without having to take any medications or really much maintenance at all.
Host: This is amazing. So how do you diagnose this?
Dr. Raja: Well, it’s an office consultation. Generally speaking, if your nose warrants it, we are able to do everything all in one visit here at Aspire Allergy and Sinus. We can take a look at your nose with the fiber optic nasal endoscope, make sure that you don’t have any polyps. We can scan your sinuses, take a look deep inside how the anatomy is and perhaps the sinuses we can't see through the nostrils. We get a better picture of it. Of course, we are highly specialized in allergies. So we can also do environmental skin testing and food allergy skin testing while you're here. So we get a really thorough picture of what you're like.
Host: So we have heard of sinus surgery. What is the difference between sinus surgery and balloon sinuplasty?
Dr. Raja: Well, sinus surgery usually means we’re removing tissue. We are not removing tissue here. As I mentioned before, we’re just rearranging it. Similar to sinus surgery, we do have the ability to put you to sleep under general anesthesia excepts it’s done in our office with very strict safety guidelines. So the comfort level is there, but the main thing is we’re not removing tissue. The device is so smart it allows us to do exactly what we need to do. Really it’s just a 10 or 15 minute procedure and people are back to their normal routine the very next day.
Host: Such a simple and short procedure. So then what is recovery like?
Dr. Raja: They can go back to work the next day. Of course they have some congestion for a week, week and a half depending on how much work is done. Generally it’s a week or two recovery and they're back with significant improvement in that short period of time. Certainly it’s not like they're laying in blood bleeding for two weeks. They go to work the next day. There's no packing in the nose, nothing.
Host: So does this procedure have long lasting effects then?
Dr. Raja: So we don’t do it over and over again allergy season. The nature of when we dilate the balloon and compressing the tissue, that tissue doesn’t become uncompressed anymore. It stays compressed. The opening stays permanently more open. So we are not planning on doing this multiple times and we are not planning on doing this as a precursor to a larger procedure. It’s one and done. That’s what we want.
Host: So I'm sure people are listening to this saying to themselves, “Gosh, does insurance cover this?” So does insurance cover this?
Dr. Raja: Absolutely. It’s really not an issue at all. We take care of all of that. It’s a really nice benefit to have if you do have insurance to be able to get this done. Take advantage of those really expensive premiums that everyone’s paying for.
Host: Yeah. That’s a really good point. So Dr. Raja if you could wrap this up for us. What would you say to someone who has been suffering from sinus issues about the balloon sinuplasty procedure?
Dr. Raja: I would say that if you feel like you don’t know what it’s like to breathe well or sleep well and if you are spending hundreds if not thousands of dollars on over the counter medications and you just want to get rid of your headaches and you don’t want to go through the hassle of a big surgery, this is it. This is an office based procedure in the skilled hands of the surgeons here at Aspire Allergy and Sinus. It would really just be a 10 or 15 minute procedure under general anesthesia, and you could get your life back. You don’t have to be miserable. You just need to know that it exists out there for you.
Host: There you go. Get your life back. Don’t be miserable. Make sure you check out the balloon sinuplasty procedure. Dr. Raja, this has been very informative. Thank you so much for your time today.
Dr. Raja: Thank you Bill.
Host: That’s Dr. Suresh Raja, an ENT doctor and otolaryngologist at Aspire Allergy and Sinus. To learn more or to book a visit, please visit aspireallergy.com/balloon-sinuplasty. If you found this podcast helpful, please share it on your social channels and check out the full podcast library for topics of interest to you. This is Achoo, the podcast for people with allergies and sinus a podcast from Aspire Allergy and Sinus. I'm Bill Klaproth. Thanks for listening.