Surgery Overview

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is a procedure used to remove
excess tissue in the throat to widen the airway. This sometimes can allow air
to move through the throat more easily when you breathe, reducing snoring. The
tissues removed may include:

  • The small finger-shaped piece of tissue (uvula) that hangs down from the back of the roof of
    the mouth into the throat.
  • Part of the roof of the mouth (soft palate).
  • Excess throat tissue,
    tonsils and adenoids, and the pharynx.

What To Expect After Surgery

It takes about 3 weeks to recover from surgery. It may be very
difficult to swallow during this time. Because of this, only 60% of those
having the surgery say they would undergo it again.footnote 1

Why It Is Done

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is sometimes used to treat
snoring in people so that their bed partner can sleep
better. It is rarely used and only considered in cases of very severe snoring
when other treatments have failed. It may be used in people who:

  • Have excess tissue in the nose, mouth, or
    throat that blocks the airway.
  • Do not stop snoring after making
    lifestyle changes such as losing weight and sleeping on their sides.

How Well It Works

UPPP is often effective in reducing snoring initially. Over the
long term, it cures snoring in 46% to 73% of those who have had this
surgery.footnote 1

Risks

Complications during surgery include accidental damage to
surrounding blood vessels or tissues.

Complications after surgery may include:

  • Sleepiness and periods when breathing stops
    (sleep apnea), both related to the medicine
    (anesthesia) that made you sleep during surgery.
  • Swelling, pain,
    infection, and bleeding.
  • A sore throat and trouble
    swallowing.
  • Drainage of secretions into the nose and a nasal
    quality to the voice. Speech may be affected by this
    surgery.
  • Narrowing of the airway in the nose and throat.

What To Think About

Surgery is rarely used to treat snoring. It may not completely cure
snoring, and the risks of surgery may not be worth the small benefit you
gain.

If you develop
sleep apnea after having UPPP, diagnosis may be
delayed because you do not snore. Snoring is the major symptom of sleep
apnea.

Snoring is not always considered a medical problem, so insurance
may not cover treatment.

Before considering surgery, all people who snore should try
nonsurgical treatment.

Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty also may be used to
treat snoring.

Complete the surgery information form (PDF) (What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

References

Citations

  1. Kashima ML (2007). Selected disorders of the nose and throat: Epistaxis, snoring, anosmia, hoarseness, and hiccups. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 1849-1864. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD – Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD – Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Hasmeena Kathuria, MD – Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine

Current as ofMarch 25, 2017