Is there an operation that I can undertake to get rid of my sleep apnea?

This question was asked in Lake Kitchawan, New York on 06/05/2012.
I suffer from sleep apnea and I wanted to know what I can do to medically remedy this problem. I know that I'll have to use the CPAC machine but I wanted to know what I can do that will be a more permanent solution.

Doctors Answers (4)

Syed Nabi, M.D.
Answered on: 6/15/2012

Surgery can be done of the airway, but it doesn't gurantee that apnea will be permanently cured. Only after you get it done, you will know for sure. Sometimes sleep apnea relapses despite curative affect as we age. Just like we wrinkle outside, we wrinkle inside and loose tone and elasticity in our muscles that contribute to airway collapse and sleep apnea.

Ramie A. Tritt, M.D., FRCSC
Answered on: 6/11/2012

Depending on your physical condition and the severity of your sleep apnea, there are multiple options for you to try to resolve or improve your sleep apnea and stop having to use the CPAP machine. The options range from losing weight, trying an oral appliance, treating nasal allergies, correcting nasal deformities that block or decrease your ability to breathe well through your nose, and surgical procedures involving your upper and lower throat such as the Pillar Implant procedure and the UPPP surgery. Due to each individual's situation being truly different, it requires you to get a complete assessment of your nose and throat passageways by an Otolaryngologist-Head and Neck Specialist (ENT) who treats sleep disorders. Very often people have two or three factors that need to be handled simultaneously, either medically and/or surgically. And remember that undergoing a treatment or procedure does not guarantee success. So to sum it all up as to your "next step" recommendation: Make an appointment with an ENT Specialist to evaluate your nose and throat passageways, and learn what your options are. Good luck!

Richard J. Schumann Jr., MD
Answered on: 6/7/2012 1

Nightly CPAP or an oral appliance is usually the standard therapy for most patient and is very effective. Weight loss, sleep hygiene and sleep postion change where applicable are also helpful in treating sleep disordered brething. For refractory cases a referral to an ENT doctor for palatal surgery such at UPPP (uvulopalatopharyngioplasty) or LAUP (laser assisted uvuloplasty) or mandibular advancement surgery are options. These do no necessarily cure the problem but can reduce dependence on CPAP or oral appliance in certain cases.

J. Douglas Hudson, MD, DABSM
Answered on: 6/6/2012 1

Yes, there are surgical procedures which MAY help eliminate sleep apnea. One procedure is removing, surgically or by Laser, part of the soft palate including the uvula, the tonsils and sometimes a portion of the tongue. This may reduce or eliminate apnea and snoring if this tissue is the cause for the problem. If the problem is in the hypopharynx, below the soft palate, a procedure to move the mandible (jaw bone) forward is a consideration. Correcting a deviation of the nasal septum can be helpful to improve airflow from a CPAP machine. Prior to the invention of the CPAP, a tracheostomy was commonly recommended. There are some other procedures such as placing plastic pillars in the soft palate which may prevent it from collapsing. You should consult with an ENT physician who can assess your anatomy to help determine the best surgical approach, if any, would be appropriate. Side effects should bre discussed. Most surgeons prefer that you first try CPAP therapy.