Question: Hi, I had sinus surgery on all four sinuses along with septoplasty and turbinectomy about a month ago. I completely lost all sense of smell and taste. Maybe once or twice a day I will get it back but very slightly and it only lasts a couple of minutes. My surgeon said it should come back in around 2 weeks and I cannot get an appointment to see him for another 6 weeks. It has now been a month and I am starting to worry. Is this normal?
Permanent loss of smell is an uncommon risk from any nasal or sinus surgery. Taste is actually not really involved, but since so much of “flavor” is determined by smell we feel that we have lost taste as well.
It is not unusual for there to be a temporarily diminished sense of smell after sinus surgery as the nasal airways can be congested and there are frequently crusts that keep the flow of air away from the smell fibers, at the roof of the nose. It is likely that is what you have as there are times when the sense of smell returns. Loss of smell from obstruction should resolve and in fact many patients who have diminished smell before surgery will note improvement in their abilitiy to smell afterwards. The much less common loss of smell from nerve damage is best treated earlier, rather than later.
However, most sinus specialists, including us at the NY Sinus Center believe that comprehensive post operative care (including cleanings) is an important part of successful sinus surgery- and will help insure the best results.
I hope this clears things up.
Robert L. Pincus MD
Co-Director NY Sinus Center