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:

  1. 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.

  2. 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

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Jul 06, 2015
My UPPP did not help
by: Greg in Maryland

I was diagnosed severe in 2000 and had the 'snoring surgery' which is UPPP. I have not had a good experience with this surgery.

My apnea decreased for a while but has returned. The worst part about the UPPP is that occasionally I have some reflux in the middle of the night while I am asleep. When this happens, the acidic liquid comes up to the edge of my throat and 'spills over' into my airway, and my body reacts like when you get the wind knocked out of you. I can't breathe! I have to concentrate on getting my breath back or I will suffocate.

At the same time, this acidic liquid burns my airway and I wind up coughing and trying to clear my throat, which at the same time perpetuates the 'wind being knocked out of me' for a few minutes while trying to calm down and get my breathing back to normal.

Thankfully this does not happen very often and has decreased in frequency since I maintain a proper pH in my body.

But let me tell you, it scares the shit out of me EVERY time it happens because that time it could be my last breath.

Additionally, whenever I eat, I must be careful with my breathing and swallowing because I could very easily inhale whatever I am eating and gag on it, even soup.

I DO NOT RECOMMEND UPPP UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES FOR ANYONE!!! The after effects are not worth it. Try gagging on a small amount of your own vomit... it isn't pretty and could cost you your life in the middle of the night...

Sorry if this is very graphic or severe in warning, but I live this every day.

Aug 01, 2015
Thank you
by: Remy

Hi Greg,

Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Really useful to know. I bet many readers will think twice before choosing the UPPP surgery.

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