No Sleep Apnea with surgery
by No Sleeper
I'm happy to write about my OSA surgery success story!
I was diagnosed with severe OSA (AHI=31 on my side; 61 on my back) about 3 years ago. I was "fitted" with a CPAP machine and mask. It took about 6-7 masks before I finally found one that fit without leaking frequently during the night. I used the CPAP EVERY NIGHT for the next 3 years except for 2x when I was out of town and inadvertently forgot the CPAP power cord 1x and the humidifier reservoir the other time.
Those 2 nights were absolutely miserable as I didn't get any effective sleep and started the next day off with a severe headache and had miserable days both times.
With the CPAP my sleep was better but I frequently had issues with either the mask, the CPAP machine, hose or something, not to mention the irritation to my wife of hearing that machine all night, every night. I inquired with my doc, pulmonary specialist, about surgery on each annual visit. He always advised me against surgery because the success rate was so low. He explained that when one area, say your palate (UP3), is fixed the obstruction eventually shows up in another area (your nose or throat).
After my third annual visit to him and my inquiry once more about new surgical procedures, he referred me to a doc in another city approx. 75 miles away. I saw this other doc (ENT surgeon) who specializes in OSA surgeries. He "snaked" a scope up my nose (my pulmonary doc never did that), determined I had multiple obstructions and said he recommended 5 surgical procedures to attempt to correct my OSA. He was honest and said this would give me a 50/50 chance at completely getting off the CPAP, but said I would experience a "quality of life" improvement and lower my pressure (was 9) on the machine if I couldn't get completely off the CPAP.
I thought and prayed long and hard and considered the pain and suffering I would have to go through with only a 50/50 shot at getting off the machine - my basic goal. I ultimately decided to have the surgery. The five procedures were as follows:
1. Septoplasty (to correct severe deviated septum)
2. UPPP (removed 1/3 of my soft palate to open up my airway)
3. Osteotomy, mandible with tongue advancement (my tongue obstructed 1/2 of my throat opening; this in effect pulled my tongue forward)
4. Submucous resection turbinate (removed some bone from nose where the turbinates are attached to open up my nostrils)
5. Hyoid suspension (the hyoid is a bone suspended in your throat; he slit my throat, pulled down the hyoid bone into the thyroid area and stitched it there once again to increase the opening in my throat)
The surgery lasted 3 hours. As stated by my doctor ahead of time, the pain associated with the UPPP "dwarfed" all the other procedures combined. The pain post-op was very tolerable with pain meds but very uncomfortable. I stayed on the pain meds (narcotics) for 4 days, then used tylenol for 3 more days. I couldn't eat anything but extremely soft foods (cream of wheat, popsicles, etc.) for 2-2.5 weeks before I started being able to tolerate slightly more substantial foods. Within 6 weeks I was just about completely back to normal. Missed 2.5 weeks of work, then returned.
I had a follow up sleep study. Now my AHI < 5, therefore no longer have OSA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Yes, if I had to do it all over again, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. It was definetely worth it. I would urge anyone considering surgery to do the following:
- Read, read and read some more on any information you can get (such as from forums such as this) and educate yourself as to what you're potentially getting yourself into.
- Find a surgeon who specializes in this type of surgery and has performed a bunch of them. My doc said he had performed over 1000 of these type of surgeries and over 100 with all five procedures I had.
You're going to put yourself through alot, therefore, try to make sure they get it right the first time.
Good luck and godspeed!
PS Although I wouldn't recommend this surgery for it, but I did lose 17 pounds post-op. I've gained about 1/2 of it back in 3 months.I hope it helps. Don't be afraid to comment back. Remy Thierry
Founder of Sleep Apnea Guide