Surgery is the last resort for treatment of snoring and is tried only in cases where all other medical and conservative managements fail. Surgery is undertaken only when there’s evidence that snoring has an adverse effect on your health or quality of life. Surgery also isn’t suitable for most cases of snoring. It isn’t usually recommended for people with sleep apnoea because there are more effective treatments available, such as using breathing devices to help with breathing. Depending on the cause of your snoring, you can opt for a palatal surgery or a nasal abnormality correction.
There are four basic surgical procedures:
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
- Laser-assisted uvuloplatoplasty (LAUP)
- Radio-frequency ablation (Somnoplasty)
- Continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP)
UPPP involves removing excess tissue in the throat like uvula and pharyngeal arches, partially removing the soft palate and sometimes the tonsils. This widens the airway and leads to a smoother airflow. It’s done under general anesthesia during which the patient is asleep. Removing the uvula can affect one’s ability to pronounce certain sounds, but it doesn’t affect one’s ability to speak English.
LAUP is considered to be a safer, more economical and a more comfortable alternative to UPPP. It involves vaporizing the free edge of the soft palate and uvula. The tonsils are not removed with this procedure. It can be done under local or general anaesthesia.
Somnoplasty is a procedure that uses an electrical current to shrink and stiffen the back part of the roof of the mouth. This stiffens the soft palate and uvula and they are less likely to vibrate and less snoring. The procedure is carried out on an outpatient basis and the patient need not stay in the hospital overnight.
CPAP is most often done to treat obstructive sleep apnea, and involves wearing a device that opens the airway with a small amount of positive pressure delivered through a pressurized nasal mask worn during sleep. The mask is attached to a small pump that forces air through the airway, which keeps it open. Although CPAP is the most reliable method of treating OSA, some people find it uncomfortable or have trouble adjusting to the noise or feel of the machine.
Soft palate implants can be used to treat snoring that has been confirmed to be due to vibration of the soft palate. Several implants made out of synthetic material are injected into the palate, causing it to stiffen. This helps prevent the soft palate, fro
m vibrating while sleeping. Palatal implants don’t have any known serious side effects. However, the benefits and safety of the procedure are still being studied.
- Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be used if you have enlarged tonsils and adenoids that block the airway during sleep and cause snoring.
- Nasal septoplasty straightens the bone and septum to create more passage in the airway. Changing the position of the bony structures in the upper airway allows air to flow more freely.
- Nasal polypectomy is done to remove nasal polyps that block the nasal passages.