About Surgery to Stop Snoring

Classic Surgery

During Classic Surgery, anesthesia is administered and there is removal of excess soft tissues of the pharynx with a scalpel. Due to the painful and invasive nature of this method, is not used often, as there are now advanced methods to surgically correct snoring.

Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty

This is the burning of hypertrophied tissues with the help of a laser beam. This method is also invasive, as it causes burn tissues, but is a more effective method than the classic surgery.

However, experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine state that: “The uvulopalatoplasty does not solve the problem of obstructive apnea since it does not normalize the apnea index (the number of sleep apnea per one hour of sleep) and a number of other objective parameters. Since there is no significant improvement after the operation and there is a risk of developing a pain syndrome and postoperative complications, a procedure is not recommended for patients with obstructive sleep apnea”.

Uvulotomy

This is uvula surgery for sleep apnea and involves the removal of the uvula. It is a simple operation, recommended for an enlarged or deformed uvula due to benign tumors, which are usually papillomas.

Radio-wave Somnoplasty

This is the “golden standard” for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea syndrome and snoring in modern surgery. It is a surgical method that destroys soft palate tissue in the submucosal layer through an electrode. This technique reduces the surface of the wound, significantly reducing the pain in the postoperative period and accelerating the process of regeneration of the mucous membrane.

The patient will not feel pain at the time of the operation, however the next day there is usually a slight discomfort when swallowing. In the postoperative period is usually 5-7 days and it takes 10-12 days to heal completely.

Septoplasty

The above-mentioned operations are often complemented by nasal restoration surgery called Septoplasty. This surgery eliminates existing issues of breathing associated with nasal septum deviation. Restoring the nasal septum’s anatomically correct structure decreases the severity of snoring.

Other methods of surgical treatment of sleep apnea syndrome include:

  • Plastic surgery on the mandible to change the shape of the lower jaw.
  • Other nasal surgical interventions, such as turbinectomy (surgical operation consisting in removing some or all of the turbinate bones in the nasal passage, generally to relieve nasal obstruction)
  • Surgical treatment of obesity.

The Riley-Powell-Stanford step-by-step protocol known as Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty has effective results in curbing snoring surgery in patients with sleep apnea, but additional data from controlled clinical trials are required for more accurate evaluation.

The postoperative period after surgical treatment of snoring can be long, depending on the type of surgery. In this period, a patient is placed on a strict diet, with limited physical activity and prohibited from the pool and sauna. If required, the patient will be encouraged to decrease excess body weight as this will improve the effectiveness of the surgery and reduce the risk of recurrence.

Snoring Surgery Side Effects

Possible postoperative complications include:

  • Severe pain;
  • Pharyngostenosis- narrowing of the pharynx caused by cicatricial deformation of the pharyngeal tissues;
  • Loss of the closing function of the soft palate;
  • Change of voice;
  • Only a minor improvement to initial issue;
  • Postoperative wound infection;
  • Bleeding;
  • Some patients in the postoperative period require a tracheostomy or a CPAP machine for safe breathing.

All surgical procedures should only be performed if the cause of the snoring or sleep apnea is due to¬†abnormalities in the anatomical tissues. There are numerous causes of obstructive sleep apnea and only some are related to the deformities of soft palate tissues. The operation will be useless and sometimes even harmful if there is no doctors’ diagnosis that the soft tissues of the palate are deformed and that is the cause of the snoring.

Lastly and importantly, all operated patients should do a polysomnography (sleep study) to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment.