Sleep Apnea - Surgery

Surgery for obstructive sleep apnea usually isn't done unless other treatments have failed or you are unable or choose not to use other treatments.

Sleep Apnea: Should I Have Surgery?

Surgery choices

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This is the most common surgery to treat sleep apnea in adults.
  • Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy. This is often the first treatment option for children, because enlarged tonsils and adenoids are usually the cause of their sleep apnea.
  • Tracheostomy. Although this is effective at treating sleep apnea, it is done only when other treatments have failed or when treatment is needed right away.
  • Maxillo-mandibular advancement (MMA). This moves the upper and lower jaw forward to increase the size of the airway.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA). This reduces the size of the tongue and other tissues that may be blocking airflow to the lungs.
  • Palatal implants. These are small plastic rods that are implanted in the soft palate . They make the soft palate stiffer to keep the tissue from blocking the airway.
  • Other surgical procedures to repair bone and tissue problems in the mouth and throat.
  • Bariatric surgery. This surgery can promote weight loss that improves sleep apnea.11
  • Nerve stimulation. A device is implanted in the upper chest. It senses the breathing pattern and mildly stimulates the airway muscles to keep the airway open.

What to think about

If you are thinking about having surgery to treat sleep apnea, talk with your doctor about having a sleep study done first.

Experts typically suggest that you try continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) before considering surgery.

Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty uses a laser to perform surgery. It is sometimes used to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea, although not all people benefit. This surgery is not recommended by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to treat sleep apnea.12

WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise
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