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Sleep Apnea and Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

Written by Olivia Cerf, sshowalter.

This surgery for sleep apnea involves the removal of extra tissue from the back of the throat, including the tonsils, the uvula, and part of the soft palate. It is designed to enlarge the airspace in the oropharynx, which is the opening at the back of the mouth leading into the throat. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is one of a handful of types of surgery for sleep apnea.

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Effect of Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) on Sleep Apnea

This surgery is not a cure for sleep apnea. Studies have shown that overall number of nighttime incidents went down, but are not eliminated. However, most patients report an improvements in the excessive daytime sleepiness that characerizes sleep apnea.

Read more details about Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).

Research Evidence on Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

In a study done in 1985, shortly after uvulopalatopharyngoplasty was introduced, 66 patients were given the surgery. 85% experienced an improvement in daytime sleepiness, and 98% experienced reduced snoring.
The greatest indicator for a favorable result was body weight. Subjects who weighed more than 125% of their ideal body weight had greater success after the surgery, and even lost weight an average of 13 pounds after the surgery. Subjects who were closer to their ideal body weight were less responsive to surgery.1

During the recovery period, some patients have experienced regurgitation through the nose. Other than that side effect, this is a relatively safe surgery for sleep apnea, with little postoperative bleeding and no voice change or speech impairment.


1Conway, W. A., Slcklesteel, J. M., Wittig, R. M., Fujita, S., Zorick, F. J., Roehrs, T. A. and Roth, T. (1985), Evaluation of the effectiveness of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. The Laryngoscope, 95: 70–74. doi: 10.1288/00005537-198501000-00017

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