Sleep Apnea, Part 4: Surgery

If other treatments and therapies don’t work for three months, you will have to try the surgical option to stop sleep apnea. Surgery is a good first option for people who have what is called a jaw structure problem. The way that your jaw is structured is causing sleep apnea.

One of the surgical options is to remove tissue. The medical name for this type of surgery is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. When the surgeon does this type of operation, you will go to the top of your mouth as well as the rear of your mouth to remove tissue that the doctor is causing the sleep apnea. Most of the time, the surgeon will remove your adenoids and tonsils.
This type of surgery will only stop throat structures from what is causing you to snore. It is not as good as the CPAP machine and will not stop obstructive sleep apnea.
The other type of surgery that removes tissue is called radiofrequency ablation. It uses radiofrequency energy to get rid of the tissue at the back of your throat. This could be an option if you don’t like oral or CPAP appliances.
Instead of having your tissue removed entirely, you could try surgery that shrinks the rear of the mouth at the back of your throat. This again uses radiofrequency energy to cause the tissue to shrink. This type of surgical procedure could be used to get rid of moderate to mild sleep apnea. This will have the effect of having the tissue removed, without having the surgical risks.
If you are having a jaw structure problem, you will probably have to have surgery that repositions your jaw. The surgeon will work to open a space between your soft palate and tongue. This makes any obstruction less likely. The long medical name for this type of surgery is maxillomandibular advancement.
Another type of surgery is called nerve stimulation. The surgeon will implant a stimulator inside the hypoglossal nerve that is in charge of controlling your tongue. This will keep the nerve constantly stimulated so the airway will always be open. They don’t know how successful this procedure is. They have not done enough research to determine how good or bad this type of surgery is. IF you don’t like the lack of research or studies on this procedure, you should probably not do it.
Another surgical procedure with an awesome name is tracheostomy. This surgery will be done when treatments have failed and you have a severe sleep apnea condition. Your surgeon will make a hole in your neck and put a metal or plastic tube inside this hole. During the day, you will keep this hole covered. At night, you will uncover the hole so you will then breathe through the hole. You will breathe all the time and there will not be any blockage. If you don’t mind having an opening in your neck, this could be for you.
There are more surgical options. You could remove your tonsils or adenoids or do weight-loss surgery. Obesity can be a cause of sleep apnea, so you should keep your weight down if you don’t want sleep apnea.

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