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Obstructive and Central Sleep Apnea (cont.)

Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Surgery is sometimes recommended to treat sleep apnea. There are several types of surgery available depending upon the individual situation and the airway anatomy. Surgery may be recommended in cases in which other non-surgical treatments (CPAP or oral appliances for sleep apnea) have been tried without success or when they are not feasible.

Most surgical procedures involve the reduction of airway obstruction by removing some of the tissues in the airways (soft palate, uvula, tongue reduction, etc.). Similar to any procedure, sleep apnea surgeries are associated with some degree of risk and possible permanent side effects. The risks and benefits of the procedure need to be thoroughly discussed with the surgeon and the sleep specialist before proceeding.

It is generally recommended to try the non-surgical options initially before contemplating a surgical option. It is also essential to have a complete sleep study done to clearly diagnose the condition before considering surgical options. There are two main reasons for this.

  1. To prevent an unnecessary surgery if sleep apnea is not the correct diagnosis.
  2. Once the surgery is performed, it may mask the signs of sleep apnea, such as snoring, and this can lead to ongoing sleep apnea without being adequately recognized, diagnosed, and treated.
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/24/2016

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