Sleeping is an essential function for health and happiness, but many Americans experience sleep disorders. One common disorder is sleep apnea, which occurs when the muscles near your mouth and throat collapse, blocking your upper airway. This causes you to stop breathing repeatedly throughout the night, leading to a drop in your blood oxygen levels.
There are a variety of treatments for sleep apnea and snoring, including a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine. If these options do not work for you, surgery may relieve your symptoms. At Alpine Ear, Nose & Throat, we’ll help determine if this is a good next step for you, along with which surgery would best serve your needs.
What Are Common Surgeries for Snoring and Sleep Apnea?
Two surgical options for these conditions are a pillar procedure and Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), both of which we offer at our clinic.
What Is a Pillar Procedure?
A Pillar Procedure involves placing polyester implants into the soft palate to offer structural support and reduce tissue vibrations that cause snoring.
Results from this procedure will depend on the severity of your sleep apnea. Our provider will help you determine if this is the right option for you.
How Is a Pillar Procedure Performed?
This minimally invasive surgery takes about 20 minutes. First, a topical anesthetic is applied to your soft palate to numb it. The surgeon then injects the area with a local anesthetic and inserts three tiny implants into the junction of the hard and soft palates. As the tissue heals, the implants help support and stiffen the soft palate, reducing relaxation and vibration of the tissues and preventing obstruction of the upper airway.
You may be prescribed anti-inflammatory pain medication and antibiotics to prevent an infection after surgery, but you should be able to resume normal activities the same day. You may experience a sore throat, swelling or difficulty swallowing, but these symptoms are temporary and should disappear within a few weeks.
What Is a UPPP?
A Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) removes excess tissue in the throat in order to widen the airway and make it easier to breathe.
How Is a UPPP Performed?
Before the procedure begins, you’ll be given general anesthesia. The provider will begin by removing the tonsils and adenoids (if applicable), excise the uvula and trim or remove the soft palate. The cuts are sutured together with stitches.
A brief hospital stay may be recommended so you can be closely monitored immediately after surgery. Your provider will discuss this with you beforehand, along with what to expect in terms of aftercare once you’re home.
Complications from this procedure may include:
- Sore throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Speech problems
- Narrowing of the airway related to scar tissue
Your doctor can discuss the risks and help you decide whether UPPP is right for you.
Our Office Is Here for You
Deciding to have surgery can be a big decision, and at Alpine Ear, Nose & Throat we’re here to take some of that weight off your shoulders. We’ll guide you through the process, starting at the initial consultation all the way through aftercare. You’ll be able to get a good night’s sleep knowing our team is in your corner.