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Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (Surgical Sleep Apnea Treatment)

A woman smiling on the dental chair.Sleep apnea is a potentially dangerous sleep disorder that can have several serious health consequences. The condition causes sudden and periodic disruption in your breathing while you are sleeping. As soon as you stop breathing, your body wakes up. As a result, you lose out on quality sleep.

Your doctor may recommend several surgical options depending on the severity of your condition and your overall health. One such procedure is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – Overview

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a surgical procedure that removes the excess tissue from the throat, making the airway wider. As a result, more air can flow through the throat, making it easier for you to breathe. Moreover, it also reduces the severity of sleep apnea. Some of the tissues that your doctor may remove during the procedure include:
•  The uvula - the soft finger-shaped tissue that you can see at the back of your throat hanging from the roof of your mouth.
•  Soft Palate – part of the roof of your mouth.
•  Excess tissues of the throat, including tonsils and adenoids.
•  In case an enlarged tongue is one of the factors causing obstructive sleep apnea, your surgeon may recommend removal of a small part of the tongue.

When Do Doctors Recommend an Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)?

Your doctor may recommend an uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) if you are experiencing the following conditions:
•  Have a growth of excess tissue in the nose, mouth, or throat that blocks your air passage
•  If your symptoms of sleep apnea do not improve despite the use of a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine.
•  If you choose not to use a CPAP machine.
•  Do not want to go for other surgical procedure to treat sleep apnea such as tracheostomy.

How Successful is Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)?

The procedure effectively reduces the symptoms of sleep apnea in most people. However, the results are mixed. Some individuals who undergo the treatment may stop snoring; however, they may continue to experience sleep apnea episodes. Moreover, some individuals may continue to need a CPAP machine following the surgical removal of the blockage.

Risks Associated with Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

While uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a relatively safe surgical procedure, it is still a surgery that can lead to complications. Some of the complications following the surgery may include:
•  Problems in swallowing.
•  Problems with speech as the surgery may affect the voice quality.
•  Changes in taste buds.
•  Pain, swelling, infection, or bleeding.
•  Narrowing of the air passage in the nose and throat.
•  Dizziness.

How Do You Prepare for the Surgery?

Your doctor will guide you on how to prepare for the surgery. You will be expected to avoid eating or drinking at least 12 hours before the surgery. Your doctor will also guide you about medications you will need to take or avoid before the procedure. You will have to arrange for someone to drive you home following the surgery.

What To Expect After the Procedure

Following the procedure, you may still need to use the CPAP machine that will help you breathe more conveniently while sleeping and prevent the episode of apnea during sleep. Your doctor may also prescribe some medications for managing pain and preventing infection.

Dr. Sherry and at Dallas Oral Surgery Associates provide care for individuals suffering from sleep apnea through a variety of surgical treatments. Contact us at 972-733-0414 to schedule an appointment.
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