Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a procedure that removes excess tissue in the throat to make the airway wider. This sometimes can allow air to move through the throat more easily when you breathe, reducing the severity of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). The tissues that are removed may include:
If an enlarged tongue is a factor in your sleep apnea, the surgeon may remove a small part of the tongue. This is called an uvulopalatopharyngoglossoplasty.
What To Expect After Surgery
You may need continuous positive airway pressure therapy (CPAP) therapy after surgery. CPAP therapy uses a breathing device that you wear at night that helps you breathe more easily and prevents your airway from closing during sleep.
Some pain medicines can relax the throat muscles. You may have to avoid these medicines after surgery to make it less likely that your airways will narrow and cause apnea episodes.
Why It Is Done
Your doctor may suggest UPPP if you:
Children usually do not have UPPP. For them, removing the tonsils and adenoids usually cures sleep apnea.
How Well It Works
Even if surgery successfully removes the blockage, you may still need CPAP after surgery.
Complications during surgery include accidental damage to surrounding blood vessels or tissues.
Complications after surgery may include:
What To Think About
Before considering surgery, you should try CPAP.
You will need a sleep study after UPPP surgery to find out if your sleep apnea has improved. If you still stop breathing at night, you may still need CPAP.
Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty is sometimes used to treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, although not all people benefit. This procedure is not recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to treat sleep apnea.4, 5
People who are obese or who have some other illnesses are more likely to have complications after UPPP.6
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