If sleep apnea is not responding to treatments like CPAP and oral appliance therapy, sleep apnea surgery may be recommended. Surgical treatments can be effective, but they also come with risks, and are rarely recommended as a frontline treatment. Sleep apnea surgery can target structures of the nose, mouth, and throat that can contribute to sleep apnea.
If you are considering sleep apnea surgery, please call 201-546-8512 or email the River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry today for an appointment with sleep dentist Dr. Marlen Martirossian.
Sleep Apnea Surgery for Your Mouth
The most commonly used surgery for sleep apnea is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP). This procedure involves removing the uvula and tonsils as well as changing the shape of the upper palate. This can dramatically expand the airway at the back of the mouth, but the success rate for sleep apnea treatment is relatively low, and it is common for even successful patients to experience some regression.
There are also laser- and microwave-energy variations on the UPPP procedure that can be used. Pillar implants are polyester stings that are placed in your upper palate to add rigidity so your upper palate is less likely to collapse.
In extreme cases, jaw advancement surgery might be used to move the surgery forward to improve support for the airway.
Sleep Apnea Surgery for Your Nose
If you are suffering obstructions in your nose, these can be removed surgically. The two most common obstructions are a deviated septum or unusually shaped turbinates.
A deviated septum is when the structure in your nose that divides the left and right nostrils is tilted, narrowing one or both sides of the airway. The septum can be set straight.
Turbinates are structures in the nose that are supposed to help direct airflow, but they can be obstructive instead. Turbinate surgery removes obstructive turbinates to create easier airflow through the nostrils.
Sleep Apnea Surgery for Your Throat
The throat is where we see most of the risk of airway collapse. There are many different procedures on the throat that have the potential to improve sleep apnea.
Hyoid suspension takes the small bone in your airway and links it to your Adam’s apple or jawbone to improve support of your airway.
Glossectomy is the removal of some parts of your tongue to add more volume to the airway and make it less likely that your airway will collapse. A related procedure is lingual tonsillectomy, which involves removing the tonsil located at the base of your tongue.
Hypoglossal nerve stimulators are a relatively new form of treatment for sleep apnea. In this procedure, a pacemaker-like device is implanted in your throat where it performs electric shocks to your tongue and other tissues to encourage them to stay open.
Tracheostomy is used in cases of severe sleep apnea that is not responsive to other procedures. In this procedure, the goal is to bypass the airway altogether by creating a hole in the throat that allows for breathing even if the airway collapses. But the procedure has a significant complication rate, and it leaves you with a hole in your throat, which can be unattractive and uncomfortable.
If you would like to learn more about surgical approaches to sleep apnea treatment, please call 201-546-8512 or email River Edge Dental Center for TMJ, Sleep Apnea, & Reconstructive Dentistry.