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Less-Invasive Sinus Surgery Provides Quick Relief For Patients

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Chronic sinusitis is one of the most common reasons people head to the doctor. Traditionally, surgical options have been a last resort due to the painful side effects—but now that's changing.

A new approach has patients breathing freely almost immediately.

Breathing easy is something Lori Whalen of Plymouth, Massachusetts forgot how to do.

"I had a great deal of pain and pressure here and there and all through my head," said Whalen.

Like one out of seven Americans, Whalen had chronic sinusitis. That's when the sinus tissue is so inflamed that fluids don't drain and can become infected.

"Just a constant malaise for two months, just feeling horrible, and then finally a fever of 102, after 7 days I waited and I went to the doctor and she said, 'we need to get this taken care of,'" said Whalen.

Click here to watch David Sutta's report. 

That led Whalen to Dr. Anit Patel, an ENT specialist at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Plymouth. He is now doing a less-invasive method of sinus surgery.

"It's a big difference and traditionally with sinus surgery, you are removing a lot of tissue and bone and these days we don't do that," Dr. Patel said.

Instead, with a slender probe and a video monitor, he can avoid any incisions and still open the passage ways by removing diseased tissue.  Then he implants a device called propel.

A company video shows how, after the sinuses are cleared, the device springs open while emitting a localized steroid over several weeks which slowly dissolves while keeping inflammation down.

"That steroid is only local, as opposed to taking a steroid by mouth which can have side effects throughout the entire body," Dr. Patel said.

Recovery from the procedure is a big improvement from traditional surgery.

"Traditionally you are out of work for 2-3 weeks, you have those large packs that come out of your nose, you have black eyes," Dr. Patel said. Patients can usually go back to work the next day.

Whalen said she had no pain at all—and went through spring with barely a sniffle.

"I was the most pain free thing, like I said, dental appointments, cleanings are worse," Whalen said.

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