Common solution for Snoring and Sleep Apnea (apnoea) that you won’t enjoy, Part 2 – Surgery

surgery for snoring and sleep apnoeaI’ve never had a sleep apnoea surgery done on me so I wouldn’t be able to comment this from my own experience. While surgery may be a quick fix to your problem, there’s no guarantee. as many people go into the surgical room with the anticipation that all their sleeping problems are solved once they are out the door, while this may be the case for some people, for the others, it’s not. While many medical surgeries are quite safe nowadays, still no medical surgeries can guarantee a 100% success rate. Surgeries also often come with post-surgical side effects (this is assuming the initial surgery was a success). I am not saying you should never have a surgery performed; sometimes a surgery is necessary, but because a surgery is not reversible, you really don’t want to do it unless it is really your last resort and only option left.
A common surgery for treating snoring or sleep apnoea is called UvuloPalatoPharyngoPlasty (UPPP), “Uvu…what?!” Don’t get overwhelmed by the term, just know that it’s the fancy term for tissue removal; in another word, cutting and removing your body parts. In this surgical procedure the surgeon removes tissue from the rear of your mouth and top of your throat, usually includes your tonsils and adenoids. This can have immediate improvement to your sleep apnoea, assuming your snoring was caused by your throat, and the surgery was performed successfully. Is this a onetime deal and you are good for the rest of your life? Sorry to disappoint you but the answer might be a NO. There have been many cases where patients got rid of their sleeping issues after the surgery, but find the problems come back again in as short as a couple months. In addition, patients who undergo tissue removal would experience uncomfort and perhaps pain during eating, swallowing, and drinking for possibly several weeks after the procedure. Speech ability may also be influenced depending on the quality of the surgical procedure performed.
A variation to the UPPP is called Radiofrequency Palatoplasty (Somnoplasty). Very similar idea, except that instead of cutting away the tissues like in a UPPP procedure, Radiofrequency Palatoplasty shrinks and stiffen the tissues by running electric current through them. The up side of this procedure is a faster recovery time; however, the down side is that you may need additional treatment if your snoring isn’t decreased enough. You are still likely to get the same side effects and problems like the UPPP.
Another surgery is called maxillomandibular advancement, another fancy term for moving your jaw forward. The idea is to shift your jaws forward to create a larger airway for you; similar to wearing a mouthpiece, but this case the shift would be permanent. It’s a major surgery that changes your facial feature and requires a long recovery time; and may develop long term jaw joint issues.
There is also an implant method called pillar procedure, where pillars (plastic rods) are implanted into the roof of your mouth near the back where the throat is (soft palate). The idea is to take advantage of your body’s self-repair mechanism, as your soft palate heals itself from the wound caused by the implant, it will stiffen up and reduce obstruction to your airway. You will likely to experience side effects such as sore throat, difficult in swallowing, and the awkward feeling of having something in your soft palate. The most common issue with this procedure is that occasionally the tip of the pillars may protrude through the soft palate, in which case you would need to contact your surgeon to have the pillars either removed or replaced.
Tracheostomy, is a term for creating a new air passageway. Yes, a new air passage in addition to your nose and mouth! In this procedure, your surgeon will cut open a hole through your neck to your trachea, and insert a metal or plastic tube though that hole to your trachea. Kind of like having a straw sticking out from your neck. The tube would have a cap that you can close during the day, and open up during the night for breathing. Besides the obvious aesthetic issue, this procedure may accompany complications with your trachea in both short and long term, including but not limited to abnormal tissue development in trachea, shifting of the tube inside your trachea, obstruction of the tube, and infections (Actually, all surgeries described above contain the risk of infection).