Understanding Sleep Apnea Surgery

Sleep apnea presents a distressingly common problem. This condition affects up to nine percent of adults in the U.S., although it can trouble people of all ages. If you suffer from this breathing disorder and conservative treatments haven’t helped, you may still get the relief you need through surgery. Let’s examine your options for sleep apnea surgery.

Man sleeping with his head tiled back on the top edge of the pillow

What Is Sleep Apnea?

In sleep apnea, normal breathing during sleep gets interrupted for brief periods, sometimes many times per night. Most sufferers experience obstructive sleep apnea, in which the tissues of the throat, jaw or tongue actually block the airway.

Common non-surgical remedies for sleep apnea include everything from the use of a CPAP (an oral device that supplies constant air pressure) to lifestyle changes aimed at reducing lifestyle risk factors such as obesity. Unfortunately, some people continue to struggle with sleep apnea despite these approaches. If you fall into this group, it’s time to explore surgical treatment options.

Surgical Treatment Options for Sleep Apnea

Surgical treatment for obstructive sleep apnea can take many forms. Depending on the nature of your airway blockage, your oral surgeon may recommend the following options.

  • Nasal Surgery – A deviated septum or excessive tissue in the nasal passages can obstruct the flow of air. Your surgeon can straighten your septum or remove other barriers to help you breathe through your nose more easily.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – In this procedure, the oral surgeon trims away tissues that interfere with your breathing, including parts of the uvula, soft palate, tonsils or adenoids.
  • Jawbone or tongue surgery – Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) shifts bony structures in the face and jaw forward, providing more room for the airway and relieving obstructive sleep apnea. You can also have a procedure known as genioglossal advancement, which tightens the base of the tongue so it won’t drift backward and block your throat.
  • Radiofrequency ablation – This surgical technique uses heat energy to shrink and tighten throat issues. A common recommendation for people who snore, this technique can also ease obstructive sleep apnea.

Commonwealth Oral & Facial Surgery offers surgical treatment for sleep apnea and other problems. Contact us to schedule a consultation and discuss your options.


Content found on this blog is intended for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional judgement, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please speak with a professional if you have concerns about your oral or sleep health.

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