Sleep Apnea / Snoring Treatments
Somnoplasty is a minimally invasive procedure that occurs in our Outpatient Center It utilizes a needle electrode to emit radiofrequency energy to shrink excess tissue to the upper airway including the palate and the uvula (for snoring), the base of tongue (for obstructive sleep apnea), and nasal turbinates (for chronic nasal obstruction).
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is the most common type of surgery for snoring and sleep apnea. This procedure involves removing the uvula, part of the soft palate, and the tonsils form the throat. It's often successful in stopping the throat structures from rattling and causing snoring. However, it is generally less successful in treating sleep apnea, because tissues farther back in the throat may still block the air passage.
UPPP is performed at St. Joseph Hospital. You'll be given general anesthesia to let you sleep during the procedure. You'll probably stay in the hospital for a day or two after UPPP. You may have a severe sore throat for several weeks after the procedure, and you'll probably eat only soft foods for a few weeks. Full recovery usually takes about a month.
Laser-Assisted Uvula Palatoplast
Laser-Assisted Uvula Palatoplasty (LAUP) is a newer procedure that can be used to treat snoring. During LAUP, the doctor uses a laser to remove part or all of the uvula and some of the soft palate. A similar procedure can be done using an electric current. Either of these procedures may quiet snoring, and may sometimes be appropriate for treating mild sleep apnea. A sleep study may be done before this procedure is performed to determine whether or not you have sleep apnea.
LAUP is much like a visit to the dentist. The patient is treated in an outpatient laser lab or right in a doctor's office. The patient remains awake, but a local anesthetic keeps the patient from feeling pain. Depending on how much of the uvula needs to be removed, the procedure may be repeated one or more times at separate visits several weeks apart. After each LAUP session, there may be some discomfort lasting from a few days to a week. Eating may be restricted to soft foods for several days.
Risks and Complications
As with any surgery, there are possible risks and complications.
These include the following:
- Food or liquids flowing into the nasal cavity during swallowing
- A temporary or permanent voice change
- Tongue numbness
- Failure of the procedure to cure sleep apnea, leading to apnea without snoring ("silent apnea")
If surgery is too risky or unwanted, the patient may sleep every night with a nasal mask that delivers air pressure into the throat. This is called continuous positive airway pressure ("CPAP").
Children whose snoring is chronic should be examined for problems with their tonsils and adenoids. A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be beneficial to quiet a child's snoring.
Tips for the Mild Snorer or Occasional Snorer:
- Lose weight through exercise and establish healthy eating habits.
- Avoid heavy meals or snacks for three hours before bedtime.
- Avoid drinking alcohol for at least four hours before bedtime.
- Establish regular sleeping patterns.
- Sleep on your side rather than on your back.
- Tilt the head of your bed upward about four inches