Nasal Surgery

Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses breathing during sleep (apneas) or bouts of excessively shallow breathing during sleep (hypopneas). Sleep apnea is usually caused by an obstruction, or blockage, of the passage of air to the lungs by structures of the tongue, the throat or the nose—for example a narrow throat or an enlarged tongue.

The standard form of treatment for this condition, called obstructive sleep apnea when caused by physical blockage, is through CPAP, or continuous positive airway pressure. CPAP involves a machine called a CPAP machine and special devices called CPAP masks designed to pump high-pressure air through the nose in order to keep the area open for air flow, the method is not always successful for everybody.

Unfortunately, many patients complain that the CPAP machine is too loud to sleep next to while others cannot sleep with the CPAP mask attached to their faces for the duration of the night. In fact, studies in the past have shown that even sleep apnea patients for whom CPAP treatment is an effective form of treatment only use CPAP therapy about half of the time they sleep, and not every single night as directed. For sleep apnea patients who cannot adjust their sleeping habits to include CPAP or BIPAP technology, and those who refuse to wear special dental devices, surgery is also an option. For obvious reasons, however, the method is not usually recommended as a first resort. Talk to a sleep specialist if you are looking for CPAP alternatives.

Nasal Surgery or Rhinoplasty for Sleep Apnea

Having an obstructed nose can cause problematic breathing both while a patient is awake and performing daily activities and while a patient is sleeping at night. Sometimes obstruction occurs as a result of congestion, but structural problems can also exist that restrict the flow of air through the nasal passage and to and from the lungs. At night, such problems will limit the amount of oxygen available for a patient and could possibly cause cost the person in health and wellness if the problems persist.

There are three main components to the nose, each of which can be alternated through surgery for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea: the septum, the nasal valve and the turbinate. Among the types of procedures available for nasal surgery, a combination of turbinate reduction and septoplasty is the most commonly performed surgery. The procedure requires that a surgeon straighten the septum, the area between the two nasal passages that starts in between the eyes and ends at the nose’s tip, and surgically removing tissue from turbinate, the bone that connect the nasal passages to the airway passages, in order to reduce its size. The final result is supposed to open up the nasal area for breathing that requires less air pressure and effort from the patient. In some patients, an additional procedure may also be performed afterward, which takes cartilage just removed from the turbinate and replacing it in the nasal valves to open up the holes in patients whose nasal valves have narrowed or collapsed.  Get in touch with a sleep specialist to determine your best form of treatment if you experience sleep apnea.