Getting surgery for sleep apnea can provide serious relief for people who have been suffering with this condition for years. However, as with any surgery, it is extremely important that you know exactly what you are getting into. Start your research process by learning about your sleep apnea surgery options here.
What Are Your Surgery Options For Sleep Apnea?
There are actually quite a few different kinds of surgery that can be used for sleep apnea. That’s because there are a lot of different possible causes for the blockage that is causing your sleep apnea. So the surgery that works best for you will depend on where the blockage is happening. Let’s take a very quick look at some of the surgery options you have:
This is the most common surgery for sleep apnea. UPPP stands for “Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty” so you’re probably going to want to just stick with calling it UPPP. In this procedure, they remove soft tissue at the back of your palate to widen the airway and make it more difficult for the palate to collapse and block the airway.
Laser Surgery For Sleep Apnea
In this surgery, doctors use a laser to cut, scar and harden the soft tissue on your palate. Your uvula is also trimmed down in the process. It has fewer side effects and is much less painful than the other surgery options. However, it is also less effective. So it is usually not the first one doctors will recommend.
Tongue Surgery For Sleep Apnea
This surgery is usually only done for those who have an enlarged tongue. The procedure involves removing tissue to resize the tongue so that it no longer obstructs your throat while you are sleeping.
Jaw Surgery For Sleep Apnea
If you have an unusually small lower jaw or a significant overbite causing your sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend jaw surgery to correct the problem. With this surgery, they will correct any structural problems to prevent your jaw from obstructing your throat.
Throat Surgery For Sleep Apnea
Similar to the UPPP surgery, this procedure involves removing soft tissue from your throat to help widen the airway and prevent the possibility of the airway collapsing shut while you sleep.
The surgery that is best for you will depend on where the obstruction or blockage is happening. Most likely, your doctor will need to do a monitored sleep study to find out exactly what is causing the obstruction while you sleep. From there, they can make a better assessment of which surgery would benefit you.
If they don’t bring up the sleep study on their own during the consultation, you should definitely request one.
How To Prepare For Your Consultation With Your Doctor
Take the following steps to prepare for your appointment with your doctor:
- Make sure you have tried every other non-surgery option available.
- Do plenty of research about your different surgery options.
- Write down a list of questions that you want answered. Be thorough.
- Ask for a reference to another doctor to get a second opinion.
- Ask and listen to their advice about what they think your best option is.
- Bring a pen and actually write down what your doctor tells you.
Following this process will ensure that you make the best use of the limited time you have with your doctor. And it will also make sure that you remember all of the information that your doctor gives you.
Things To Consider Before Getting Surgery For Sleep Apnea And Snoring
Before you make your final decision about getting surgery, you need to keep some important information in mind and be realistic about this decision. Here are the most important things to consider:
- Surgery treatment for sleep apnea is not necessarily a one-time deal. Breathing problems continue to worsen as you age. So if you don’t take real steps to address the health problems at the root of your sleep apnea, it will come back and the surgery will have been a waste.
- Surgery for sleep apnea & success rate are not so easy to pinpoint. Different surgery options have different success rates but it will also depend on you. Again, if you don’t start leading a healthier lifestyle, you might start experiencing sleep apnea symptoms again immediately after surgery.
- Surgeons specialize in different options. There are so many different sleep apnea surgeries and no surgeon is a master at all of them. If there’s a particular surgery that seems to offer you the best chances, you want to look for a surgeon who specializes in that exact surgery—not just any “sleep apnea surgeon.” The more research you do before, the less regrets you have after.
We don’t want to scare you away from surgery entirely. We just want to make sure that you treat it as an absolute last resort. That is what it should be. And that is what your doctor should tell you as well. If they tell you any different, get a second opinion.
Surgery is an invasive procedure and comes with risks. While sleep apnea surgeries are not among the especially risky surgeries, they do still carry risk. So you really need to treat them as a last resort. But once you’ve tried all of your other possible options and done thorough research about your surgery options, you will be able to make the right decision for you!