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4 FAQs About Sleep Apnea Surgery

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ENT Doctor

Sleep apnea is a sleeping disorder that prevents a patient from breathing properly when they sleep. Untreated sleep apnea often leads to repeated pauses in breathing during sleep, and this could happen hundreds of times throughout the night. This means that the body and the brain cannot get enough oxygen, causing some serious damage to one’s health.

Sleep apnea surgery is one of the most common treatments for patients with sleep apnea. In this article, we’ll be discussing a couple of the most common questions that people ask about sleep apnea surgery that an ear, nose and throat (ENT) doctor will perform.

Who is at risk of developing sleep apnea?

Many people believe that sleep apnea is something exclusive to those with weight problems such as obesity. When people are of a healthy weight, they often have enough anatomical space to prevent sleep apnea. As weight is gained, fat is deposited around the throat and this causes the airway to become blocked. This is why many people believe that sleep apnea is exclusive to obese people. However, the reality is that around a third of the world's population has a deficiency in their craniofacial skeleton. This means that they can be of a healthy body weight yet still suffer from sleep apnea, hence why everyone can potentially develop it.

What surgery options are available?

Your ENT will likely recommend sleep apnea surgery to help you overcome the disorder. There is nasal surgery, which involves treating nasal obstructions. There’s UPPP, also known as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, which involves removing excess tissue from the soft palate and pharynx. There’s also tracheostomy, which involves creating a passageway that allows air to enter the lungs directly from the trachea. There are several different methods, but these are some of the most common that your ENT will suggest.

Will my sleep apnea be cured in a single procedure?

This is sadly not true for most people. In most cases, you may be required to have two or three different surgical procedures to treat your sleep apnea. Only a small number of patients will have their sleep apnea cured in a single procedure. Your ENT will likely suggest the procedure that has the highest chance of success, but if this doesn’t work, then you will be suggested to have follow-up procedures to further reduce the chances of the disorder getting worse.

Can I have sleep apnea surgery even with a high BMI?

Procedures are available for people of all sizes and weights. However, different methods (such as tracheostomy) are more likely to be successful for those with a higher BMI. Other methods will prove to be less effective, and it’s possible to consider weight reduction as a more effective means of treating sleep apnea. This is because weight is often the cause of sleep apnea disorders developing in the first place, and it’s believed that treating the root of the problem is the best method.