When Do Nasal Polyps Require Surgical Treatment?

Jul 06, 2023
When Do Nasal Polyps Require Surgical Treatment?
Usually, surgical intervention isn't necessary for nasal polyps. However, surgery may be the only way to provide long-lasting relief in severe cases. Learn how to identify these situations here.

Nasal polyps are little growths in the nooks and crannies of your nose and can be quite a bother. While not life-threatening, these teardrop-shaped bags can be the culprits behind chronic stuffiness, a reduced sense of taste or smell, and those never-ending cold symptoms. 

With so many people living with this condition across the country, it's vital to have a reliable source of care. Mani Zadeh, MD, expertly guides patients struggling with nasal polyps in Los Angeles, California, through effective diagnosis and treatment. 

Here he explains what exactly nasal polyps are and provides insight into when surgical treatment is the right choice.

What are nasal polyps? 

Nasal polyps are benign growths on the lining of your nasal passages or sinuses. They’re soft, painless, and often resemble miniature peeled grapes or teardrops. 

They result from chronic inflammation and are associated with allergies, recurring sinus infections, asthma, weak immune systems, and other disorders.

Not everyone with these conditions will develop polyps, and not all polyps cause symptoms. However, when symptoms arise, they can range from mild congestion to significant difficulty in breathing.

Who gets nasal polyps? 

Several factors make certain people more prone to nasal polyps. Genetics, allergies, and asthma are common contributors. Moreover, people with chronic rhinosinusitis with nasal polyps (CRSwNP) have chronic sinus inflammation and are especially susceptible to polyps.

When should you consider surgery?

Surgical intervention is generally the last resort after other treatments have proven ineffective. Here's when you might need to think about surgery:

Other treatments fail

The first line of treatment often involves medications such as nasal sprays, antihistamines, or oral steroids. We may consider surgery if these medications fail to relieve your symptoms or shrink the polyps.

Breathing difficulties 

If polyps grow large enough to block your nasal passages significantly, this can hinder breathing through your nose. Surgery can clear the airways, making it easier to breathe.

Frequent infections

Polyps can increase susceptibility to sinus infections. If you deal with frequent sinus infections despite treatment, Dr. Zadeh might suggest surgical removal of the polyps.

Loss of sense of smell

Large polyps can cause a loss of smell, which is not only frustrating but can also be dangerous, as it may prevent you from detecting things like smoke or gas leaks. Surgery can restore your sense of smell.

Sleep disturbances

Polyps can lead to snoring or sleep apnea, where breathing stops momentarily during sleep. When this impacts your sleep quality and daily functioning, surgery might be the solution.

Surgical options for nasal polyps

There are a couple of surgical options to treat nasal polyps, including


A polypectomy is a relatively simple procedure for removing polyps using a suction device or a microdebrider.

Endoscopic sinus surgery

Endoscopic sinus surgery involves inserting an endoscope, a thin tube with a camera, into your nostrils and guiding it into your sinuses. We then use specialized instruments to remove the polyps and any other obstructions.

After surgery, following Dr. Zadeh's advice to prevent a recurrence is essential, including using a saline nasal rinse, continuing with nasal sprays, and possibly making lifestyle changes such as avoiding allergens or using a humidifier.

If you or someone you know is struggling with nasal polyps, book an appointment with Mani Zadeh, MD, online today or call 310-286-0123.