Surgery for Sleep Apnea

Surgery May Help Erase Your Sleep Apnea Symptoms

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder characterized by recurrent pauses in breathing during sleep, often accompanied by loud snoring. It can result in daytime fatigue, impaired cognitive function, and serious health issues such as hypertension and heart disease. While lifestyle changes and continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy are initial treatment options, some individuals may explore surgical interventions when these methods prove ineffective.

If you’re looking for sleep apnea treatment in Foster City & Belmont, contact our sleep dentist today to schedule an appointment. Call us at (650) 525-9440 to get started.

woman having trouble sleeping cause her husband snores

Types of Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a condition where one struggles with pauses in breathing during sleep. There are different types of sleep apnea, including:

  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA): Obstructive sleep apnea is the most common form and occurs when the muscles at the back of the throat relax excessively, causing a partial or complete blockage of the airway.
  • Central Sleep Apnea (CSA): Central sleep apnea occurs when the brain fails to send the appropriate signals to the muscles responsible for controlling breathing.
  • Mixed or Complex Sleep Apnea: This type of sleep apnea is a combination of obstructive sleep apnea and central sleep apnea.

If a patient needs sleep apnea surgery, they typically have severe obstructive sleep apnea. Your dentist or sleep specialist will recommend the best treatment for you.

Types of Sleep Apnea Surgery

Surgery for sleep apnea is usually a last-resort treatment. However, various surgical treatments may be recommended, including:

  1. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): UPPP is a surgical procedure that involves removing excess tissue from the throat, including the uvula and parts of the soft palate, to widen the airway and alleviate obstruction.
  2. Genioglossus Advancement (GA): GA repositions the base of the tongue forward to prevent it from collapsing into the throat during sleep.
  3. Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA): MMA repositions the upper and lower jaw to enlarge the airway, creating more space for airflow.
  4. Inspire Therapy: Inspire therapy is an innovative approach involving the implantation of a device that stimulates the hypoglossal nerve, thereby preventing airway blockage during sleep.
  5. Palate Implants: Small rods or implants are inserted into the soft palate to stiffen it, reducing snoring and airway collapse.
  6. Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction: These surgeries address structural issues within the nose, such as a deviated septum or enlarged turbinates, contributing to sleep apnea.

To learn more about surgical options, contact our dental team today.

Sleep Apnea Surgery Candidates

Sleep apnea surgery won’t be recommended until all other options have been exhausted, such as CPAP (continuous positive airway pressure) therapy or oral appliance therapy. You’ll undergo a thorough evaluation to determine if you need surgery for sleep apnea.

Your suitability will depend on:

  • Severity of sleep apnea
  • Inability to tolerate CPAP
  • Specific anatomical issues
  • Overall health condition
  • Motivated and committed to lifestyle changes
  • Evaluation by a surgeon

Benefits of Sleep Apnea Surgery

Patients can experience the following benefits after undergoing sleep apnea surgery:

  • Improved Sleep Quality: Sleep apnea surgery aims to reduce or eliminate interruptions in breathing during sleep, leading to improved sleep quality. With fewer apnea events, individuals can experience uninterrupted sleep, increasing energy and alertness during the day.
  • Reduced Snoring: Many sleep apnea surgeries can effectively reduce snoring. This not only improves the quality of sleep for the affected person but also benefits their bed partner or roommate.
  • Enhanced Daytime Function: Treating sleep apnea through surgery can lead to increased daytime alertness and cognitive function. People often report feeling more focused and better able to concentrate on tasks after successful surgery.
  • Reduced Cardiovascular Risks: Untreated sleep apnea is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular problems, such as hypertension, heart disease, and stroke. Surgery that effectively treats sleep apnea may help lower these risks.
  • Decreased Dependence on CPAP Therapy: For some individuals, sleep apnea surgery can reduce the severity of their condition to the point where they no longer require continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy.
  • Enhanced Quality of Life: Many people with sleep apnea experience a significant improvement in their overall quality of life after surgery. They may have more energy, be more productive, and enjoy a better sense of well-being.
  • Potential Resolution of Anatomical Issues: Sleep apnea surgeries can address specific anatomical or structural issues that contribute to airway obstruction, such as a deviated septum, enlarged tonsils, or excess soft tissue in the throat.

The Surgery Process

Most sleep apnea surgeries will be performed under general anesthesia in a hospital or surgical center. The details of your surgery will be dependent upon the type of procedure you’re undergoing. However, most have the same goal of resolving airway obstruction. Recovery times will vary depending on the type of surgery performed, but most patients will be able to resume normal activities within a few weeks.

Make sure you do the following to ensure a smooth recovery:

  1. Post-Operative Pain Management: Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications to manage discomfort during the initial recovery period.
  2. Dietary and Activity Guidelines: Follow dietary recommendations and avoid strenuous activities as directed by your surgeon.
  3. Follow-up Appointments and Monitoring: Attend post-operative appointments to ensure proper healing and address any concerns.
  4. Lifestyle Adjustments: Implement lifestyle changes such as maintaining a healthy weight, avoiding alcohol and sedatives, and practicing good sleep hygiene to maximize the benefits of surgery.

Potential Risks and Complications

Like with any surgical procedure, there are a few risks and complications patients should be aware of. These can include:

  • Infection: Although rare, surgical site infections can occur and require prompt medical attention.
  • Bleeding: Post-operative bleeding may occur and should be reported to your healthcare provider.
  • Alterations in Voice: Some procedures may temporarily affect your voice, but this is usually temporary and resolves over time.
  • Swelling and Discomfort: Swelling and discomfort are common after surgery but typically subside within a few weeks.
  • Surgical Outcomes: The effectiveness varies among individuals, and success rates depend on factors like the type of surgery and the severity of sleep apnea.

dentists performing a dental procedure on a patient.

Sleep Apnea Surgery Costs

The average cost of a sleep apnea surgery ranges between $6,000 and $10,000. Your total cost will depend on various factors, including:

  1. Type of Surgery: The type of sleep apnea surgery chosen plays a significant role in determining the cost. Procedures like Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) or Inspire Therapy will have different price ranges.
  2. Location: The cost of medical procedures varies by region and within cities. Typically, procedures in urban areas with higher living costs may be more expensive than in rural areas.
  3. Surgeon’s Fees: The surgeon’s fees can vary based on their experience and reputation. Surgeons with more expertise may charge higher fees.
  4. Anesthesia and Facility Fees: Anesthesia costs and facility fees associated with the surgical center or hospital where the procedure is performed will contribute to the overall cost.
  5. Pre-operative and Post-operative Care: Costs can also include preoperative consultations, sleep studies, diagnostic tests, post-operative follow-up appointments, and medications.
  6. Insurance Coverage: The extent of insurance coverage can significantly impact out-of-pocket expenses. Some insurance plans may partially or fully cover sleep apnea surgery if deemed medically necessary.
  7. Out-of-Pocket Expenses: Patients should consider co-pays, deductibles, and any other out-of-pocket expenses associated with their insurance plan.
  8. Additional Costs: Depending on the surgery and the patient’s specific needs, there may be additional costs for special equipment, such as home humidifiers or adjustments to CPAP devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can surgery cure sleep apnea?

Surgery for sleep apnea can significantly improve or even eliminate sleep apnea symptoms in many cases, but it may not be a guaranteed cure for everyone. While some individuals may no longer require continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) therapy or other treatments after surgery, it’s essential to continue follow-up care and lifestyle modifications, as recommended by healthcare professionals, to maintain long-term benefits and minimize the risk of recurrence.

Is surgery for sleep apnea painful?

Pain and discomfort are common after sleep apnea surgery, but the level of pain varies depending on the type of procedure and the individual’s pain tolerance. Most surgeries are performed with general anesthesia to minimize pain during the operation. After the surgery, patients are typically prescribed pain medications to manage discomfort during the recovery period.

What is the most common surgical treatment for sleep apnea?

The most common surgical treatment for severe sleep apnea is called “uvulopalatopharyngoplasty” (UPPP). UPPP is typically performed on patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is the most common type of sleep apnea. Obstructive sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the back of the throat relax excessively during sleep, causing a blockage of the upper airway and leading to repeated breathing pauses.

What is the recovery time for sleep apnea surgical procedures?

Each surgical treatment will vary. However, patients can expect to recover between three to four weeks after their surgery. Patients should notice improvements in their sleep apnea symptoms within two months.

Regain Your Restful Nights!

Ready to say goodbye to your sleepless nights and treat sleep apnea? If you’ve tried other sleep apnea treatments and nothing has worked for you, you may need surgery. To learn more about surgical procedures for sleep apnea, contact our orthodontists in Foster City & Belmont today by calling (650) 525-9440 to set up an appointment.