5 Surgeries Used to Treat OSA

Sleep apnea can be treated in a variety of ways, one of them being surgery. There are many different procedures available under this. Each OSA patient has one that suits them, and they generally need a specialist to determine which. Most surgeries are multi-step processes where more than a single procedure is performed in order to rectify the cause of OSA. On top of that, one may need to continue using a CPAP machine afterward, at least until their sleep physician tells them it is all right to stop.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

This procedure is done on the back portion of the roof of the patient’s mouth, in the same way as other soft palate surgeries. Here, any excess tissue is repositioned or removed so as to widen the person’s airway. The uvula and soft palate can be trimmed down, the tonsils removed, and some of the soft palate muscles repositioned. UPPP is the most commonly used surgical method to treat OSA, although it rarely suffices to cure it, unless complemented by other surgeries.

Turbinate Reduction and Septoplasty

This is a surgical option where the patient’s nasal passage gets opened up to allow for better airflow. Generally, it involves straightening the nasal septum, which is the part of the nose that splits it into halves. In turbinate reduction, the curved parts sticking out of the nose are removed. Sometimes, medications are used to shrink these down first.

Genioglossus Advancement

The main reason for snoring in many people is the tongue falling back into the throat. Genioglossus advancement repositions the major tongue attachment to the front of the mouth, so that the back of the tongue is left with more space. The procedure involves cutting the lower jaw where it meets the tongue, and then moving just this piece of bone to the front.

Hyoid Suspension

This surgical procedure expands the space available for breathing in the lower throat. For this, the hyoid bone is pulled towards the front and then secured in place. This bone has a U-shape, and is found attached to the epiglottis and other throat structures.

Laser-Assisted Uvuloplasty (LAUP)

A surgery that is rarely recommended as treatment for sleep apnea, LAUP involves the surgeon making cuts, which cause the soft palate to tighten up. The cuts are made using a surgical laser. During subsequent visits, the uvula gets trimmed as well. The pain involved here is less than you would experience from UPPP, and the side effects are fewer as well.