Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder people suffer from characterized by breathing interruptions while sleeping which could potentially cause serious health consequences such as high blood pressure, metabolic issues, etc. In general, it occurs as a result of relaxed throat muscles that cause airway blockage which then leads to breathing obstructions.
And, as you could guess, since it is a disorder that may result in several complications, sleep apnea requires immediate medical treatment which at first includes lifestyle changes and medications. However, if these don’t help, a surgical procedure may be needed. Here are the most common surgical options for sleep apnea:
Radiofrequency Volumetric Tissue Reduction
If wearing sleep equipment doesn’t work for you, radiofrequency volumetric tissue reduction (RFVTR) might be for you. The surgery involves radiofrequency waves to either shrink or remove tissues from the back of the throat and so opens up the airway and reduces snoring.
Similar to RFVTR, uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is used to reduce snoring and involves the removal of excess tissue from the top of the throat and the back of the mouth. It is also typically done when sleep apnea patients can’t wear any sleep equipment and accessories.
Also referred to as jaw repositioning, the maxillomandibular advancement procedure is done to move the jaw forward and thus create more space behind the tongue and open up the airway. According to studies, it reduces sleep apnea severity by over 50%.
Anterior Inferior Mandibular Osteotomy
In this surgery, the doctor divides the chin bone into two parts so that the tongue moves forward and the airway opens up while the jaw and mouth stabilize. Compared to others, this surgery requires a shorter recovery time but is typically less effective.
This surgical procedure involves tightening the tendons in the front of the tongue to prevent it from rolling back and interfering with breathing. In general, genioglossus advancement is done alongside other surgical options for getting more relief.
Midline Glossectomy and Base of Tongue Reduction
As the name itself suggests, the midline glossectomy and base of tongue reduction surgical procedure involves the removal of a part of the back of the tongue to widen the airway. Researchers claim that studies have shown that this surgery’s success rate is 60% or higher.
Lingual tonsillectomy is a surgery doctors recommend to patients for opening up the lower part of the throat. As a result, patients will experience easier breathing. The surgery involves the removal of both tonsils and tonsillar tissue around the back of the throat.
Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction
Patients who have a bent nasal septum, the mix of bone and cartilage that separate the nostrils, will certainly find relief after septoplasty. The procedure straightens the nasal septum and cavities and makes breathing easier. Similarly, turbinate reduction reduces the size of the turbinates, curved bones along the walls of the nasal passage, to open up the airway.
Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulator
People with sleep apnea stop breathing while sleeping many times. This surgery uses an electrode that’s attached to the hypoglossal nerve and connected to a device that stimulates the tongue muscles and prevents them from blocking the airway.
Finally, patients who suffer from sleep apnea as a result of a blockage at the bottom of the tongue can alleviate their condition by undergoing hyoid suspension. The procedure involves moving the hyoid bone and the surrounding muscles in the neck to open up the airway.