What are surgery options for Sleep Apnea?

With obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), blockages somewhere in the airway occur repeatedly and cause breathing to stop for at least ten seconds and maybe for a minute or longer. The intention of surgery is to open the airway sufficiently to eliminate or to reduce obstructions to a clinically insignificant level. In order to do so, surgical therapy in adults often must reconstruct the soft tissues (such as the uvula and the palate) or the bony tissues (the jaw) of the throat.

If you have been diagnosed with OSA and are considering surgery, talk to a sleep specialist and/or experienced surgeon about the different procedures, the chances they will be effective for you with your anatomy and why, and the risks involved with surgery. Untreated sleep apnea can be harmful to your health, and surgery cannot always address all the points of obstruction. Eliminating the snoring does not necessarily eliminate the apneas. Sometimes surgery does not cure sleep apnea but reduces the number of apneas so that more treatment options are available to you and/or more comfortable. Yet in some circumstances, surgery may actually worsen the apnea.

Please note that some surgeries are for only snoring and are not considered optional treatments for sleep apnea. However, some of those procedures may help alleviate nasal breathing problems and assist patients in using CPAP. For information about these procedures, see the section on surgery for snoring.

Below are links to information about some of the available surgery options:

ASAA information about various surgery options

University of Maryland Medical information about surgery options

Pillar surgery procedure

UPPP surgery procedure

The following is a link to a variety of discussion forum posts on the subject of surgeries and dental devices:

discussion board descriptions of personal experiences with surgeries

Find a surgeon who specializes in sleep medicine