Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a procedure that removes excess
tissue in the throat to make the airway wider. This sometimes can allow air to
move through the throat more easily when you breathe, reducing the severity of
sleep apnea (OSA). The tissues that are removed may
The soft finger-shaped tissue that hangs down from
the back of the roof of the mouth into the throat (uvula).
UPPP may stop snoring, but apnea episodes may continue.
Even if surgery successfully removes the blockage, you may still
need CPAP after surgery.
Complications during surgery include accidental damage to
surrounding blood vessels or tissues.
Complications after surgery may include:
problems. The surgery may result in a nasal quality to the
Changes in how food tastes.
Swelling, pain, infection, or bleeding.
Narrowing of the airway in the nose and throat.
Sleepiness and periods of not breathing (apnea)
related to the medicines that are used to relieve pain and help you
What To Think About
Before considering surgery, you should try CPAP.
You will need a
sleep study after UPPP surgery to find out if your
sleep apnea has improved. If you still stop breathing at night, you may still
Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty is sometimes used to
treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea, although not all people
benefit. This procedure is not recommended by the American Academy of Sleep
Medicine to treat sleep apnea.footnote 3
People who are
obese or who have some other illnesses are more likely
to have complications after UPPP.footnote 4
Sundaram S, et al. (2005). Surgery for obstructive sleep apnoea in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (4).
Caples SM, et al. (2010). Surgical modifications of the upper airway for obstructive sleep apnea in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep, 33(10): 1396–1407.
Aurora RN, et al. (2010). Practice parameters for the surgical modifications of the upper airway for obstructive sleep apnea in adults. Sleep, 33(10): 1408–1413.
Kezirian EJ, et al. (2006). Risk factors for serious complication after uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. Archives of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery, 132(10): 1091–1098.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerMark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine
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