Sleep Apnea Surgery

The Cycle of Obstructive Sleep Apnea - OSA
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Sleep apnea surgery is sometimes suggested by doctors when a person is suffering from severe forms of obstructive sleep apnea, which involves the throat, nose and ears. However, many doctors also prefer to get second opinions from sleep specialists and clinics before making such recommendations as there are no proven guarantees that sleep apnea surgery will benefit the patient’s sleep health over the long-term. In fact, there are eleven types of sleep apnea surgeries and some of them are more uncomfortable or painful for the person than others.

Types of Sleep Apnea Surgery

Though there are eleven sleep apnea surgery types, no guarantees are ever given of a cure or indisputable levels of success. No formal clinic studies have been done over decades or at substantial levels to show any long-term benefits of these surgeries. Therefore it is important for any person having such surgeries recommended to them to always get a second opinion before agreeing to such surgeries. These surgeries include:

• UPPP or uvulopalatopharyngoplasty – the removal of the throat’s soft tissues, uvula (part or all), adenoids, tonsils, sections of the palate’s soft part and any throat type tissues found behind that; may increase the airway width by the opening of the throat; might help in blocking muscles closing the airway for improved breathing; may soft palate closure and movement; rated at a 65% success rate with deterioration over time of about 50%; usually used for soft palate abnormalities; complications include potential post-surgical infections, swallowing impairment, throat mucus, voice frequency changes, fluid regurgitation in mouth/nose, impaired smell and apnea reoccurrence/surgical failure; success affected by obesity and some health conditions

• LAUP or laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty – similar to the UPPP, except done for snoring reduction; removes less rear throat tissues; uses a laser and can be done by a family doctor in their office; complications include potential post-surgery throat dryness, throat scarring/narrowing and worsened snoring; may impede ability to diagnose apnea

• Pillar palatal implants – non-invasive type surgery use to control mild to intermediate types of snoring and sleep apnea; reduces soft palate movement and vibrations; three short polyester strings inserted into soft palate; can be performed within ten minutes by a family doctor in their office; only requires a local type anaesthetic; quick recovery and reduced pain after surgery; as successful as UPPP

• Tracheostomy – used to treat sleep apnea; tube inserted into windpipe through opening in the neck; considered 100% beneficial and successful; ¼ sized permanent opening in neck and throat; rarely performed unless the sleep apnea is a threat to survival

• Tongue advancement – tongue opened by the jawbone and moved forward

• Tongue reduction – uses controlled temperatures and radio-type frequency ablation

• Hydroid advancement – surgery that moves the bone beneath a person’s chin forward which also pulls the tongue forward

• Genioplasty – chin plastic surgery to move the tongue forward

• MMA or maxillary advancement – surgical forward moving of the jawbone’s lower mandible and the upper maxilla; can alter facial appearance permanently

• Nasal obstruction surgery – removes nasal obstructions, including the deviated septum to fix snoring and other conditions

• Adenotonsillectomy – removes adenoids and tonsils to deal with sleep apnea in children and adults; potential complications include post-surgical respiratory illnesses in about twenty-five percent of people; highest risk groups for complications include kids under three, non-thriving kids, premature babies, and anyone with severe sleep apnea, heart problems, obesity, lung infections, facial structural issues and neuromuscular diseases; not always successful with very severe cases of sleep apnea; works in conjunction with other therapies such as UPPP surgery and CPAP in adults

Risks versus the Benefits of Sleep Apnea Surgery

Only a surgeon can determine what an individual’s risks and benefits might be from these sleep apnea surgeries. Therefore, to properly assess the risks versus the benefits, anyone getting a recommendation of this type of surgery should consult a second doctor and ask as many questions as possible. It might also be prudent to consider if going without surgery is less of a risk and more liveable. Such choices should be made by the patient with the help of expert medical doctors.


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