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External sinus surgery is performed when endoscopic sinus surgery or balloon Sinuplasty fail to remove or improve sinus disease or due to severe scarring or thick bone within the sinuses. It is indicated for difficult-to-remove polyps, tumors, cancers or fungal infections or rarely in CSF leaks. Typically the incision will be made in the face, scalp or in the cheek to access the sinuses.

There are situations where making an incision in the scalp or around the eye or in the undersurface of the cheek may be necessary to open the sinus and remove tumor or fungus or even polyps from these areas. The recovery following these procedures is generally longer than when endoscopic sinus surgery or balloon sinuplasty is performed.

External sinus surgery is far less common these days than perhaps 10-15 years back due to advances in endoscopic sinus surgery. 


While sinus surgery is considered a very safe procedure, there are potential risks in having any form of surgery. The side effects that exist, while rare, include complications relating to the use of anesthesia, infection, bleeding, tear duct injury, scar tissue formation, vision loss and cerebrospinal fluid leakage.

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