Nasal Surgery and Upper Airway Surgery

Sometimes surgery is a viable option when all else fails. The specific goal of surgery is to “enlarge the airway and prevent snoring and airway collapse.” Surgery is “site-specific”, meaning that it pinpoints a particular area of the airway and makes it bigger. Nasal surgery poses as great a risk to health as any operation does, with the biggest concern being anesthesia. The greatest advantage of nasal surgery is that it often provides a permanent solution for the sleep apnea problem.

Septoplasty

Septoplasty is one form of nasal surgery that is performed by way of the nasal passages. The septum is the piece of cartilage that divides the nostrils into two separate passages. Those with a crooked (or deviated) septum can experience problems with their airways as it works as an obstruction to breathing.

A septoplasty is undertaken by surgeons to correct this problem. How it works is that a tiny incision is made inside one of the nostrils and then the septum bone and cartilage are both straightened to do away with the problem.

Turbinate Reduction

Turbinate reduction is another form of nasal surgery. Each nostril contains three turbinates and they are the lower, middle and upper. Each turbinate is composed of bone that is encased by soft tissue and the purpose of them is to soak up the air that is breathed in and then warm and moisturize it as it required.

When a turbinate is too large it can obstruct the airways. The nasal airway can work to its optimum best if an enlarged turbinate is made smaller surgically. The process of turbinate reduction can be done by way of lasers, a cautery unit, radio-frequency energy or surgical instruments.

Other Nasal Surgery

Other types of nasal surgery include endoscopic sinus surgery and the removal of polyps from the nose. Sometimes the development of small growths in the nose called polyps can bring about obstructions of the airways. In other cases a succession of sinus infections can bring on nasal problems in the form of air obstruction. If either of these situations are the case then it is necessary for a patient to undergo sinus surgery or polyp removal surgery.

Upper Airway Surgery

Upper airway surgery is undertaken for the purpose of “narrowing the upper part of the airway involving the soft palate, uvula, tonsils, or adenoids.”

UPPP

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is undertaken when a patient has an elongated soft palate as well as an enlarged uvula. UPPP surgery is performed under general anesthesia and is done by way of conventional surgical instruments or a laser.

What happens during the surgery is that the uvula is taken out and then the bottom edge of the soft palate is trimmed down as is necessary and then if the patient has tonsils they are taken out. Stitches accompany this surgery and most doctors use the kind that dissolve in the mouth.

LUAP

Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is used to treat not only OSA but consistent loud snoring as well. When it comes to this surgery the back edge of the soft palate is removed and the uvula is reduced in size. If the tonsils are part of the problem they are treated by way of a laser. LAUP is performed under local anesthesia in a doctors office.

Most doctors use a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser to perform the procedure. This is not a one-time thing. LAUP consists of anywhere from one to four treatments and takes approximately fifteen to twenty minutes at a time. Most patients need to continue treatments for anywhere from four to six weeks. It generally takes that long for there to be an improvement noted in symptoms.