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Your ENT and Hearing Care Specialists

What is Sleep Apnea Surgery?

ENT Specialist

Sleep apnea is a sleep disorder that occurs when a person’s breathing is interrupted while they sleep. This means that the entire body (including the brain) fails to get enough oxygen due to the repeated pauses in their breathing.

Treating sleep apnea usually involves positive airway pressure. This can treat moderate to severe cases of sleep apnea, but only around 50 percent of patients that suffer from the condition are actually treated with PAP. Most ear, nose and throat (ENT) professionals would recommend this as a go-to option, but there is also sleep apnea surgery.

In this article, we’ll be discussing a couple of the most common sleep apnea procedures.


Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP for short, is one of the most common sleep apnea surgical procedures that ENTs perform. It is designed to remove excess tissue from the soft palate and pharynx and also removes the tonsils if they are present. After removing tissue from these areas, sutures are used to prevent the areas from collapsing. UPPP requires the patient to stay overnight at the hospital due to the painful recovery that could last up to a whole week. This procedure usually gives patients a lot of relief from sleep apnea and shows great improvement.

Nasal surgery

Sleep apnea has been shown to be caused by nocturnal nasal congestion and daytime nasal congestion. Therefore, treating the nasal obstruction is one of the key ways for ENTs to help you treat sleep apnea and is one of the more common surgeries to undergo. The procedure creates more space in the nose that allows air to pass through more smoothly and is relatively common as a treatment performed by your ENT.

Soft palate implants

Also known as the pillar procedure, this isn’t as invasive as other surgical procedures that are designed to help with sleep apnea. The procedure involves three polyester rods that are placed in the soft palate. These rods start an inflammatory response in the surrounding tissues, resulting in a slight stiffening of the soft palate. The stiffer soft palate is less likely to come in contact with the back wall of the pharynx while sleeping, which subsequently helps with snoring and apnea. This is a quick procedure that can be performed with local anesthesia while the patient is awake.


This procedure is a technique that is designed to create a passageway for air to go straight into the lungs from the trachea. This helps the air bypass any potential obstructions in your upper airway. Permanent tracheostomy can be a long-term treatment for obstructive sleep apnea but is commonly used as a treatment for morbidly obese patients that have failed other forms of sleep apnea surgery. It may seem like an extreme procedure, but is an effective solution for sick patients that are suffering badly from sleep apnea.