In many patients with obstructive sleep apnea,
airway narrowing and collapse occurs in the area of the soft palate
(back part of the roof of the mouth), tonsils and uvula. The specific
type and combination of procedures that are indicated depend on each
individual’s unique anatomy and pattern of collapse. Therefore the
procedure selection and surgical plan are customized to each patient. In
general, these procedures aim to enlarge and stabilize the airway in
the upper portion of the throat.
The surgery is performed in an operating room under general
anesthesia, either as an outpatient or with an overnight hospital stay.
The recovery varies depending on the patient and the specific procedures
performed. Many patients return to school/work in approximately one
week and return to normal diet and activity at two weeks. Throat
discomfort, particularly with swallowing, is common in the first two
weeks and usually managed with medications for pain and inflammation.
Risks include bleeding, swallowing problems, and anesthesia
complications, although serious complications are uncommon.
The tonsils and adenoids may be the sole cause of snoring and
sleep apnea in some patients, particularly children. In children, and in
select adults, with obstructive sleep apnea and enlarged
tonsils/adenoids, tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy alone can provide
excellent resolution of snoring, sleep apnea and associated symptoms.