UPPP Surgery

How a Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty Procedure Can Help Sleep Apnea

a man's throat

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UPPP is a medical abbreviation for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, a surgery that involves removing the soft tissue at the back of the throat, including the uvula, soft palate, and sometimes additional soft tissue at the back of the throat.

A tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy are sometimes performed at the same time. This surgery is aimed at treating obstructive sleep apnea, a condition where these structures can block the airway and cause cessation of breathing while you are asleep.

Due to potential complications involved in this surgery, most doctors recommend other treatment measures for sleep apnea, particularly C-PAP. If other treatment measures fail, a UPPP may be recommended, but some sources say that the success rate of this surgery is only around 50%.

Complications and Recovery

Complications of the surgery are similar to any procedure under anesthesia and also include bleeding, infection, difficulty swallowing after the surgery, a decreased sense of smell, and voice changes.

These risks and the benefit of potentially curing obstructive sleep apnea must be carefully considered. Sleep apnea, if left untreated, can itself cause potentially life-threatening complications.

Most sources claim that the recovery time of this surgery is about 2 to 4 weeks and that the surgery can be rather painful. This information may not be particularly helpful when considering UPPP, however, because every person's recovery time and perception of pain will vary.

Bottom Line

Before having UPPP, you may want to talk to your doctor about the possibility of having a "toned down" version of this surgery. For example, removing the tonsils and adenoids has been considered helpful in treating snoring and sleep apnea, as has uvulectomy.

Keep in mind, however, that any surgery used to treat sleep apnea has not been well-studied long term, and there is no guarantee that surgery will cure your problem or that you will not have to use a C-PAP after the surgery.

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Article Sources

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  • University of Maryland Medical Center. Obstructive Sleep Apnea - Surgery.