Sleep Apnea Surgery - A Look At Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty


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There are many potential causes of sleep apnea. One such cause is an excess of soft tissue in the soft palate or uvula, both of which lie near the back of the mouth and upper throat. If either are too large or too long they can cause an obstruction when a person is sleeping, causing them to stop breathing for a short period of time. A surgery known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is one possible solution for this type of problem resulting in sleep apnea.

UPPP typically involves the removal of the tonsils and reduction in size of the uvula and soft palate. UPPP is only a viable option if your doctor has determined that the obstruction is occurring because one of these parts of the body. UPPP is a fairly straightforward procedure, but shouldn’t be done unless there is substantial evidence that the soft palate or uvula is the cause of the obstruction and subsequent sleep apnea. Another similar type of surgery is called uvulopalatopharyngoglossoplasty which involves the removal of part of the tongue.

While UPPP may be the be-all-end-all solution for some people, others still need the use of a device called a continuous positive airway pressure, or more commonly known as a CPAP. A CPAP basically forces the airways to stay open using a certain amount of pressure while a patient is sleeping. Many people hope to discontinue its use after surgery since it requires a mask and can be quite cumbersome. However, if sleep apnea persists a CPAP is necessary.

If you think UPPP or a similar type of surgery is the answer to your sleep apnea see your doctor to discuss your options. For some patients extra tissue isn’t an issue and therefore surgery would be pointless. As with any type of surgery there are some risks involved and therefore you and your doctor should be sure about your decision. Some risks include damage to surrounding tissue. You may want to explore all other options before choosing surgery as a solution to sleep apnea.

Rudy Watkins offers tips for identifying sleep apnea symptoms on the Apnea Guide website. For more helpful information and to sign up for our free newsletter, visit


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