Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sick Of Your Sleep Apnea?! There Are Surgery Options

Most physicians will agree that people with obstructive sleep apnea first need to try CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) before exploring surgery options. If you are someone that has tried every kind of CPAP mask or nasal device and cannot tolerate them, then considering surgery might be right for you. It is also important that you know if your sleep apnea is mild, moderate or severe.

Here are descriptions of the most common types of surgery.

UPPP, which stands for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, try using this word when talking to you Doctor and he'll probably give you a sucker. This surgery involves removal of the soft palate, uvula and tonsils, if you still have them. It is done under general anesthesia and the recovery is dependent on the individual.

Some patients from our sleep labs have told me it's the most painful "sore throat" they've ever had and didn't feel comfortable for 2 to 3 weeks. Others have been fine after 3 days, so it really depends on the individual's pain threshold. Most physicians require you to stay overnight after the surgery. UPPP has been known to be most effective with snoring and hypopneas (partial airway obstruction), Studies have shown it to be 85% effective for correcting apneic episodes (or complete cessation of breath).

LAUP procedure (which stands for laser assisted uvuolopalatopharyngoplasty) is the same as the UPPP but done with a laser instead of the surgical knife. The recovery time is still the same as well.

Somnoplasty uses low temperature frequency waves administered through a needle to the back of the throat or soft palate. There is no hospitalization and can be done as an outpatient in about an hour. This surgery might have to be repeated and most physicians recommend it for patients with mild sleep apnea.

The pillar is the latest procedure and is getting some popular reviews. This surgery entails placing three tiny woven inserts into the soft palate with a needle. The inserts firm the soft, loose tissue as the body makes scar tissue in response to the inserts. This surgery has been said to be comparable to UPPP but without the recovery time. It is performed with local anesthetic and is completed in about 10 minutes. It is recommended for mild to moderate sleep apnea.

These surgeries have changed lives and even saved lives of patients with sleep apnea. Some people with severe apnea will continue CPAP even after having surgery. You might think "then what's the point of surgery?" But having surgery can also allow you to use CPAP on a lower pressure that will be much more tolerable---and if you feel like a million bucks during the day then isn't it worth it????

If your CPAP is not working for you then talk to your physician about having surgery. If you or anyone you know has had any of these procedures, please send feedback on your experience. This will be very helpful to all readers considering surgery. Your physician will discuss which option is best for you, but hopefully, after reading this, you will have some knowledge as to what they are.