Though sleep apnea surgery is the last treatment option that doctors resort to, at times it is necessary and essential to cure the disorder. Sleep apnea surgery is mostly done to treat obstructive sleep apnea, as this type of apnea relates to a physical problem that a surgery can treat effectively.
Obstructive sleep apnea occurs due to upper airway obstruction while one is sleeping, hence if other options such as the continuous positive airway pressure machine isn’t helping, sleep apnea surgery can be used to remove the soft tissues at the back of throat that collapse while one is asleep, and as a result increase the airway passage; or by expanding the jaw structure in a manner that it no loner restricts the breathing process.
Though the above description of sleep apnea surgery sounds very simplistic, it is important to note that the airway structure often varies between individuals, and definitely varies between adults and children, hence different types of sleep apnea surgical procedures exist. Also, the severity of the disorder might vary, as a result needing different surgical procedures.
In the following sections some of the main types of sleep apnea surgical procedures are explained:
Sleep Apnea Surgery – Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
The main purpose of this procedure is to remove the soft tissues at the back of the throat that collapses at night and hence obstructs the airway. If the patients have tonsils or adenoids, this procedure takes care of that too. The goal of this procedure includes increasing the airway width at the throat’s opening point and improving the movement of the soft palate.
However it is important to keep in mind that this procedure, like its name, is extremely complicated, and as a result is easily the most painful of the sleep apnea surgery procedures that are commonly used by doctors. However the success rate is quite high, and only rarely are there major complications post surgery.
Sleep Apnea Surgery – Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)
This procedure is basically a variation of the previous procedure, which like its name suggests, is assisted by a laser treatment. Though this procedure is usually much less painful than the above mentioned one, and can also be performed in a doctor’s office, its success rates in the long term are not quite solid. As a result doctors are quite concerned about the ability of this procedure to eliminate apnea.
Sleep Apnea Surgery – Pillar Palatal Implant
The main goal of this procedure is to reduce snoring, and reducing the movement of the soft palate. This method is a non-invasive surgical treatment, that is used to treat mild apnea problems. This too can be performed in a doctor’s office and only needs local anaesthesia.
Sleep Apnea Surgery – Tracheostomy
Once considered as the only surgical treatment option for sleep apnea, this method is now used very rarely, and usually only in extreme cases when the disorder might be a threat to life. This procedure involves making an opening in the throat to get to the windpipe to insert a tube.
These were some of the more well-known and commonly used sleep apnea surgery options. However it should be kept in mind that a second opinion should always be taken when it comes to sleep apnea surgery.