sleep apnea surgery

Sleep Apnea Surgery

Are you one of the millions of people suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, and thus a poorer quality of sleep? Have you considered surgery for sleep apnea but are still unsure what the procedure will entail? Going through a surgical procedure is one of many possible treatment options, but according to the medical community, it should be used as a last resort and only when other treatment measures have failed. Here we will take a closer look at surgery for sleep apnea, including some facts which may surprise you.

What Causes Sleep Apnea?

This condition is characterized by pauses in breathing during the night and it is caused by tissues in the throat which collapse over the airway during sleep. This obstruction can cause heavy snoring along with long pauses in breathing and can indeed be dangerous if left untreated.

3 Types of Surgery

If all other treatments for sleep apnea fail, including sleep apnea mouthpieces and CPAP breathing machines, your doctor may suggest a surgical procedure. There are several different types of surgery for sleep apnea including:

  • Uvulopaltopharyngoplasty: This term is a mouthful, but thankfully the procedure is a bit simpler than the name might indicate. In this procedure, which is the most common type in adults, excess tissue is removed from the throat to make the airway wider.
  • Tonsillectomy/Adenoidectomy: These two procedures consist of the removal of either the tonsils or the adenoids or both. In this surgery, which is the most common form of sleep surgery in children, is a good option if the tonsils or adenoids are enlarged and blocking the airway during sleep.
  • Bariatric surgery: Bariatric surgery is a type of weight-loss surgery and is used in patients who are obese and whose continued weight gain is making the symptoms of sleep apnea more pronounced and problematic.
  • Other: Other surgical procedures may involve the reshaping of the bone or the tissues in the mouth to help aid breathing during sleep.

Is Surgery a Good Solution?

If you’re thinking about having surgery, there are several factors you should consider first. Many people think a one-time surgery would be preferable to using a CPAP machine night after night, but there’s a reason why surgery is considered a last-resort treatment by doctors. In uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) surgery, for example, you need to consider the following:

  • There is no definitive research that indicates UPPP is effective in treating this disorder
  • While UPPP is a very effective surgery to help stop snoring, snoring is only a symptom of apnea during sleep. UPPP may not be able to stop the pauses in breathing.
  • Only about half of those who have undergone UPPP surgery report an improvement in their symptoms
  • You may still need to use CPAP therapy even after undergoing UPPP surgery

Most doctors agree that a treatment strategy which includes diet, exercise and CPAP therapy should be employed thoroughly before even considering surgery for sleep apnea.

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