Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a surgical procedure to remove excess tissue in the throat in order to widen the airway, making it easier to breathe. It’s designed to treat obstructive sleep apnea, a sleeping disorder that can cause serious health problems over time.
What Is UPPP?
UPPP involves removal of tissues that may include the uvula, soft palate, tonsils and adenoids, and pharynx. In some instances, a small portion of the tongue may be removed, as well. Candidates for this procedure will suffer from snoring and sleep apnea caused by excess tissue in the throat or mouth that causes blockages of the upper airway. They are unable (or unwilling) to use continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP), the preferred method for treating sleep apnea, or do not respond to CPAP treatment.
What Does The UPPP Procedure Involve?
During the procedure, the patient is given general anesthesia. The surgeon will remove the tonsils and adenoids (if applicable), excise the uvula, and trim or remove the soft palate. The cuts are sutured together with stitches. A brief hospital stay may be recommended so the patient can be closely monitored immediately after surgery. Complications may include sore throat, swelling, infection, bleeding, difficulty swallowing, speech problems or changes to the voice, sleepiness or apnea due to medications you’ll be given to promote healing, changes in the way food tastes, and narrowing of the airway related to scar tissue.
Is UPPP Right For Me?
As with other sleep disorder surgeries, UPPP is not a viable solution for everybody. It offers mixed results; some people report a drastic reduction in episodes of snoring and apnea, while others still require additional treatment (e.g. CPAP) afterwards. Your doctor can discuss the risks, and help you to decide whether UPPP is right for you.