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Surgery for snoring and sleep apnea


Some people do snore occasionally, but there are those who have a chronic problem and snores frequently. The tissues in the throat relax during sleep. These tissues vibrate and create a hoarse sound, which is termed as snoring. Snoring is harmless, but it can disrupt your sleep at times or those of others. Not only that, it could be signs of sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea is a type of sleep disruption leading to serious health consequences. The condition stops breathing periodically during sleep. It relaxes the muscles in the throat. The body would usually wake up if breathing stops and disturb your sleep. Sleep apnea can even increase the risk of developing metabolic issues, high blood pressure and other health problems.

What are the surgical options to stop snoring and sleep apnea?
Surgery can successfully reduce snoring and treating obstructive sleep apnea. But snoring can sometimes return over time. The doctor can advise the best possible treatment for you.

Palatal implant or pillar procedure
The palatal implant is a minor surgery that can treat snoring and the less severe cases of sleep apnea. Small polyester rods are surgically implanted into the soft upper palate of the mouth. The implants are about 18 mm in length and 1.5 mm in diameter. The palate stiffens as the tissues heal, making them more rigid and less likely to vibrate.

Radiofrequency volumetric tissue reduction
Your doctor would recommend a radiofrequency volumetric tissue reduction if the person cannot wear a breathing device like a continuous positive airway pressure. Radiofrequency waves shrink or remove the tissues in the back of the throat and open up the airway. The procedure is most commonly used for snoring, though sleep apnea can be treated as well.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty
This procedure is one of the most common surgeries to treat sleep apnea, though it might not be the most effective. Extra tissue is removed from the back of the mouth and the top of the throat. It is usually done if a CPAP machine or other device cannot be used. It is used to treat snoring.

Maxillomandibular advancement
The procedure, also known as jaw repositioning, involves the movement of the jaw forward to create space behind the tongue. This helps to open up the airway. The severity of sleep apnea is reduced by more than 50% with this treatment.

Anterior inferior mandibular osteotomy
The chin bone is divided into two parts and allows the tongue to move forward. It opens up the airway and stabilizes the jaw and mouth. The procedure ensures a shorter recovery time that most of the others, but might not be very effective.

Hypoglossal nerve stimulation
The nerve that controls the muscles in the upper airway is controlled so that the airways are kept open and snoring can be reduced. This nerve is called the hypoglossal nerve and a surgically implanted device stimulates this nerve. The device activates during sleep and can sense if the person is not being able to breathe normally.

It would be a good idea to talk to the doctor about the symptoms and the treatments that can be applicable to you.

Authored by Dr Shailesh Pandey, ENT Specialist

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