Effects from Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Benefits and Side Effects of Surgery for Sleep Apnea

In this article you'll discover if surgery for sleep apnea - in your situation -  can be a treatment option.

In this article you can compare the benefits and side effects of all the surgeries performed by doctors to treat obstructive apnea (OSA).

You'll also learn how to improve your chances for success with sleep apnea surgery, if you decide to choose this path for treatment.

When to Choose Surgery for Sleep Apnea?

Before Trying Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Surgery is not for everyone, and it's not always an easy fix solution for treating OSA. As you'll discover on this page, surgery for sleep apnea has low rates of success. And success in surgery doesn't always mean you are completely treated.

You should seriously consider trying a couple of non-surgical options before choosing surgery, such as:

Even doctors have sometimes difficulties to recommend which treatment is the best for you. Some surgeries for sleep apnea can have serious side effects, worsening the severity of the syndrome and affecting the treatment with other options available.

For example, after UPPP surgery patients can have problems to use the CPAP machine, even if its necessary. However, nasal surgery can help you tremendously to use CPAP with success, mostly if you have nasal congestion, enlarged turbinates or deviated septum.

Bottom line... Consider trying nonsurgical or conservative options to treat sleep apnea, before undergoing any surgery.

Surgery Options for Obstructive Sleep Apnea

After you gave one or two non-surgical options a good honest try, you have clear path to surgery for sleep apnea. Your ENT doctor will have many surgery options for you, such as:

Improvement of nasal breathing to support CPAP therapy:

  • nasal surgerydeviated septum surgery

Surgery for primary snoring and very mild obstructive apnea:

Surgery for mild and moderate OSA:

Surgery for moderate and severe OSA (after CPAP failure):

In the following video you can learn more about new revolutionary surgery for sleep apnea:

When Surgery Should be Performed?

In order to reduce the pre- and postoperative risk, sleep surgeons together with ENT will have to correctly identify the site of obstruction.

They should use pressure measurements with one or more sensors, flexible endoscopy, analysis of sounds during sleep, and various imagining techniques to identify the site of obstruction and the origin of your loud snoring.

Bottom line... Only after the identification of the site obstruction that causes your sleep apnea, you should accept the recommendation from your doctors to undergone the sleep apnea surgery.

Surgery Side Effects 

Here are the most important side effects that can affect your chances of success in surgery:

Side Effects from Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Low Rates of Success - The estimated rates for surgery is about 40%, which means that 40% of people who undergo surgery for sleep apnea improve their AHI scores to greater than 50% drop from original score.

For example, if you have your apnea index 50 (severe OSA), then with a successful surgery you will have 50% drop, which means your AHI will be 25 (moderate OSA). Unfortunately, you still need to use a form of treatment, especially CPAP, after surgery.

However, some surgeries have greater rates of success, with more than 50% drop (tracheostomy), and other surgeries have lower success rates with less than 50% drop (UPPP).

You also have to considerate that not everyone is the same. Different people have different anatomy that requires different types of surgeries. In other words, you might be the person who can have the right anatomy for 80% success rate with UPPP, but others may fail.

Fortunately, the surgeons have now a way of predicting whether or not a surgery for sleep apnea will work for you, using different methods and systems.

Severe Pain - Almost all types of surgeries for sleep apnea can be very painful and can last for weeks. Undergoing a UPPP surgery is considerate one of the most painful experience in a normal life.

Some methods for surgery can be less painful, like the radiofrequency energy, which vaporizes tissues at low temperatures, causing much less trauma with much faster recovery.

Pain medication can be also helpful to resist more easily the recovery process.

Surgery Complications - Remember that modifying your airways, or other parts from your body has always the risks for complications. Most patients cannot use the CPAP therapy, after a UPPP surgery, because of the leakage of air through the nose or mouth.

With sleep apnea surgery you have the risk of bleeding, problems with anesthesia, airway issues, or allergic reactions.

Sleep Apnea Can Reappear After Couple of Years - Remember that some surgeries only lowers your apnea hypopnea index with 50% drop. If you have AHI 20, then with 50% drop after surgery you will have AHI of 10, which is a mild case. However, an untreated mild sleep apnea become severe after couple of years.

You'll still need CPAP, dental devices, or Rematee, to maintain the level of severity low.

Benefits of Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Better Than Not Treating Your Sleep Disorder

If you cannot tolerate CPAP, surgery, despite it's lower success rates, is better than nothing. From an apnea hypopnea index AHI of 40 (severe apnea) to an AHI of 9 (mild apnea) it's a great improvement.

Dental devices can be successful or not. Either way, some people can't tolerate them or have specific dental reasons why they can't use them.

Furthermore, patients with mild sleep apnea have greater chances to treat permanently sleep apnea. Remember that some surgeries have 50% drop of AHI level? If your AHI is 9, and after surgery your AHI becomes 3, then you are breathing like a normal person during the night. Your sleep apnea is cured.

Which doctor to consult regarding your sleep apnea?

Momentarily, there is no special doctor for sleep apnea. Because this sleep disorder has so many causes and side effects, different specialized doctors can give you different recommendations for treatment.

For example:

  • Doctors from sleep centers (sleep doctors and sleep technicians) generally recommend CPAP therapy.
  • Dentists will recommend dental devices.
  • The Otorhinolaryngologist or ENT (ear, nose and throat doctor) recommends surgery for sleep apnea.

In general, patients who visit only one of these doctors, will choose his recommendation. If the patient is not successful with one of the methods, he will visit another doctor, and so on...

Other doctors don't want to risk making you a wrong recommendation, so they will give you the treatment options, and you will have take the decision. However, this is not the best approach to treat your sleep apnea.

So, what is the solution? Which doctor is the best? The best solution is to visit all these three types of doctors before taking a decision: the sleep doctor, the dentist and the ENT.

It will be best if all these doctors are working in a team, communicating with each other regarding your situation. It is possible that a sleep doctor recommends CPAP, but checking your nasal passages by an ENT will be a clever choice, because he can discover a deviated septum, which affects the CPAP therapy.

What's the Best Surgery for Sleep Apnea?

The most effective surgery for sleep apnea is tracheostomy, when your AHI levels drop to 0 regardless how severe is your breathing sleep disorder.

Anything else that's done to the soft tissues from your mouth and throat is going to be less than optimal, starting from a success rate of 80% to 40%.

As you probably realize, the more you cut from the obstruction area, the better your success rates, but the more likely the risk of complications. Your ENT should help you choosing the best solution.

› Effects from Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Share this page:
Enjoy this sleep apnea page? Please pay it forward. Here's how..

Would you prefer to share this page with others by linking to it?

  1. Click on the HTML link code below.
  2. Copy and paste it, adding a note of your own, into your blog, a Web page, forums, a blog comment, your Facebook account, or anywhere that someone would find this page valuable.