Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) is a sleep disorder characterised by repeated interruptions in breathing during sleep. These interruptions occur due to the relaxation of throat muscles, leading to a blocked airway and reduced oxygen intake. Common symptoms include loud snoring, abrupt awakenings accompanied by choking, excessive daytime sleepiness and difficulty concentrating. Obstructive Sleep Apnea can lead to serious health issues like hypertension, heart disease, and diabetes, and it often causes poor sleep quality and daytime fatigue.
Treatment options range from lifestyle changes and medical devices like CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines to surgical interventions, aiming to improve airflow and restore regular breathing patterns during sleep.
Am I a Suitable Candidate for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery?
Generally a suitable candidate for Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery is someone who:
- Has physical obstructions in the airway, such as enlarged tonsils, adenoids, or nasal polyps
- Suffers from a long or floppy uvula, or an abnormally large or thick soft palate
- Has certain jaw or facial structure abnormalities, like Retrognathia (when the lower jaw is set back)
- May have tried other treatments like CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) or lifestyle changes that have not worked.
It is important for individuals considering surgery for OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea) to consult with a Sleep Specialist and an experienced Surgeon. They will assess the specific condition, overall health, and medical history to determine the most appropriate course of action, weighing the potential outcomes against the risks associated with surgery.
Possible Outcomes of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery has many potential outcomes, including:
- Improved Sleep: Successful surgery can lead to better sleep quality and increased energy levels. By reducing interruptions in breathing during sleep, individuals may experience improved mood, concentration, and daytime alertness.
- Reduction in Symptoms: Surgery can alleviate or significantly reduce common symptoms associated with OSA (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), such as loud snoring, choking or gasping during sleep and excessive daytime sleepiness.
- Decreased Health Risks: Effective treatment of Obstructive Sleep Apnea through surgery can lower the risk of related health problems, including hypertension, heart disease, stroke and diabetes.
- Managing Obstructive Sleep Apnea can contribute to overall cardiovascular health.
- Alternative for CPAP Intolerant Patients: Some individuals find it difficult to tolerate CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) therapy due to discomfort, claustrophobia, or other issues. Surgery can be an alternative for these patients.
- Long-Term Solution: Depending on the type of surgery and the specific cause of Obstructive Sleep Apnea, surgical interventions can offer a long-term solution, addressing anatomical issues that lead to airway obstruction.
It is important to note that the outcomes of sleep apnea surgery can vary from person to person and the decision to undergo surgery should be made after careful consideration, consultation with medical professionals and a thorough evaluation of your overall health and condition. Additionally, surgery like any medical procedure carries certain risks, which should be discussed thoroughly with your Surgeon.
What to Expect During Surgery
The specifics of Sleep Apnea Surgery can vary depending on the type of surgery being performed and the individual’s unique condition. Below is a general overview of what to expect during sleep apnea surgery;
Before the surgery, you will undergo a comprehensive evaluation by your healthcare provider. This may include a physical examination, imaging tests, and possibly a sleep study to precisely diagnose the severity and cause of your sleep apnea.
Sleep Apnea Surgery is typically performed under general anaesthesia, which means you will be unconscious and pain-free during the procedure.
The type of surgery will depend on the cause of your sleep apnea. Common procedures include Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), Genioglossus Advancement (GA), Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA), or surgeries to address nasal obstructions. UPPP involves removing excess tissue from the throat to widen the airway. GA and MMA involve repositioning the bones in the upper airway to enlarge the space and prevent obstruction.
The length of your hospital stay will depend on the complexity of the surgery and your overall health. Some procedures may be performed on an outpatient basis, allowing you to go home the same day, while others may require a short hospital stay.
After the surgery, you will be monitored in a recovery area until you wake up from the anaesthetic. You may experience some pain, swelling and discomfort which can be managed with pain medications prescribed by your surgeon. It is essential to follow the post-operative care instructions provided by your healthcare team.
Risks and Complications
- Pain and Discomfort
- Changes in speech or swallowing
- Need for additional surgery
- Failure to improve symptoms
- Anaesthesia risks
It is important for patients to discuss these potential risks and complications with their healthcare provider. The decision to undergo sleep apnea surgery should be made after careful consideration, weighing the potential results against the risks and fully understanding the possible outcomes. Additionally choosing a skilled and experienced Surgeon can significantly reduce the risks associated with sleep apnea surgery.
Pain and discomfort are typical after surgery. Your surgeon will prescribe pain medications to manage these symptoms. It is important to take these medications as directed to stay ahead of the pain.
Swelling and bruising around the surgical site are common and usually peak within 48-72 hours after surgery. Applying ice packs and keeping the head elevated can help reduce swelling.
Patients may need to follow a soft or liquid diet immediately after surgery, gradually transitioning to a regular diet as tolerated. Strenuous physical activities should be avoided during the initial recovery period.
Patients will have follow-up appointments with the surgeon to monitor the healing process. During these appointments, the surgeon will assess the surgical site, address any concerns, and provide further instructions for recovery.
The timeline for resuming normal activities varies based on the type of surgery and individual healing. Patients should follow their surgeon’s advice regarding when they can resume activities like work, exercise, and driving.
Patients will likely be monitored to assess improvements in sleep quality and to ensure the effectiveness of the surgery in addressing sleep apnea symptoms. This may involve follow-up sleep studies.
Every patient’s recovery experience is unique, so it is vital to follow the specific post-operative instructions provided by the Surgeon and communicate any concerns promptly. Patience, proper care and adherence to medical advice are key elements of a successful recovery from Obstructive Sleep Apnea surgery.
How Much Does Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery Cost?
Every patient is different, therefore the prices vary. You will be given a price quote after your first consultation. Your Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery quote will include your Surgeon’s fee, Anaesthetist’s fee, perhaps a surgical assistant fee, and the hospital fees.
Dr Stephen Kleid – Ear Nose and Throat Surgeon
MBBS – Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery and Bachelor of Medicine
FRACS – Fellow of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons
Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for Rhinoplasty, Septoplasty and a strong interest in Rhinoplasty Revision.
If you want to find out more about a procedure book a consultation.
Our Melbourne based, fully-qualified Surgeons primarily operate at accredited major hospitals in Melbourne. They use only experienced Anaesthetists and a top team of surgical support staff.
Dr Stephen Kleid is an experienced Ear, Nose, and Throat (ENT) Surgeon (Otolaryngologist) based in Melbourne with a passion for helping patients who suffer from Sleep Apnea issues.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery is a highly-specialised field, so the choice of the right surgeon with expertise in this area can deeply impact the outcome of your surgery.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I know if I have Sleep Apnea if I live alone?
You should be aware of signs such as daytime tiredness, waking up suddenly and gasping for air, waking up with a sore throat and recurrent headaches.
What is the best position to sleep when you have Sleep Apnea?
The recommended sleeping position when you have obstructive Sleep Apnea is lying on your right side. This may help reduce snoring and encourage better airflow.
What if I can’t sleep during a Sleep Study?
If you can’t sleep during a sleep study you can take a light sleeping pill. This helps your body to relax and helps you to sleep without affecting the results of the Sleep Study.
Will losing weight cure Sleep Apnea?
Being overweight or obese can be a contributing factor for obstructive sleep apnea. To reduce sleep apnea symptoms, it is suggested to lose approximately 10-15% of your body weight.
In some people, weight loss alone might not be enough to completely cure sleep apnea and snoring (although it might reduce it).
Does OSA Surgery solve the problem of snoring?
Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery helps open up the upper airway and eliminates snoring.
How long will I have to stay hospitalised after Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery?
It depends on the complexity of the surgery for each patient. Most patients are discharged the same day, but an overnight stay is possible.
What are the advantages of Obstructive Sleep Apnea Surgery over the CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine?
Although CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machines have good success rates and help patients suffering from Sleep Apnea, they can be bulky, uncomfortable and quite expensive.
Further Reading – Medical References
- Surgery For Sleep Apnea – Sleep Apnea
- Procedures for Sleep Apnea Surgery – Sleep Education
- Surgical Treatments | Sleep Apnea
- Surgical Therapy of Obstructive Sleep Apnea: A Review – NCBI
- Obstructive sleep apnea – Diagnosis and treatment – Mayo Clinic
- Surgical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea in adults