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UPPP: The Procedure That Might Help Your Sleep Apnea

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If you have obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor might recommend surgery if you don't get results from using a CPAP machine or losing weight. A common sleep apnea procedure is a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP. This surgery removes excess tissue in your throat so your airway doesn't collapse at night when you sleep. Here is some more information on using this procedure to treat sleep apnea.

How The UPPP Procedure Treats Apnea

Obstructive sleep apnea is caused when your airway collapses when you become fully relaxed during sleep. One reason this happens is because there is too much tissue crowding your upper throat. The UPPP surgery removes this tissue to make your airway wider. The surgery is tailored to your needs. You could have part of your soft palate, uvula, tonsils, or adenoids removed. The surgeon may even remove part of your tongue.

How The Surgery Is Performed

This type of surgery is done using general anesthesia in a hospital or surgical clinic. You might go home the same day or you might need to spend the night in the hospital to recover. The tissues are cauterized when they're removed to control bleeding, but you'll probably still have some stitches put in. The surgery doesn't take long, but even if you have it as an outpatient, you'll need to spend some time in recovery afterward to have your condition monitored and to recover from the anesthesia.

What To Expect As You Recover

You'll probably have a sore throat for several days. You'll also feel as if you have something stuck in your throat due to the stitches. You can control the discomfort by applying ice packs to your throat area. You'll also need to keep your head elevated to control bleeding. While you should walk and remain active, you should limit strenuous activities until you are cleared by your doctor. You may be given anesthetic spray or lozenges to help with your throat pain. Since each case is different when it comes to the type and amount of tissue removed, your doctor will let you know when you can resume usual activities and go back to work.

Once your throat has healed, you should notice a reduction in sleep apnea episodes and snoring. However, you might still need to wear a CPAP device when you sleep. Your doctor will also encourage you to lose weight since weight loss often helps sleep apnea too. Before the surgery is done, you'll undergo testing to make sure you're a good candidate. This involves a sleep study and examination of your airway. The testing may be repeated after you've recovered from surgery to ensure your sleep apnea  improved.