The palate region is the most common area involved in snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
Surgical Treatment for Snoring:
For snoring, less aggressive procedures can work well because there is less breathing obstruction. The most common procedures for snoring involve stiffening the soft palate, including the Pillar® Procedure, and a few technologies that treat the soft palate with a controlled type of cauterization, or radio frequency.
Palate radiofrequency is performed in the office using local anesthesia. This procedure is used to stiffen the soft palate by a controlled cauterization that creates scar tissue. The tissues tighten, creating more space for breathing and reducing tissue vibration. Patients can expect two to three treatment sessions.
Surgical Treatment for Obstructive Sleep Apnea
For obstructive sleep apnea, most patients require more-involved procedures to treat the palate region. The physician will work with you evaluate which treatments will work best for you.
Expansion Sphincter Pharyngoplasty
Expansion sphincter pharyngoplasty is an innovative and advanced procedure in which the soft palate is pulled forward by repositioning the muscle that normally sits behind the tonsil. The muscle is moved closer to the front of the mouth creating a space for breathing behind the soft palate. This procedure involves tonsillectomy. Typically, the uvula is not removed.
Lateral pharyngoplasty is used for patients who have thicker tissues of the palate and sides of the throat. This procedure involves a combination of tonsillectomy plus tissue removal and repositioning in the soft palate and side of the throat. It helps to increase the size of the airway.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, also known as U-triple P or UP3, involves tonsillectomy for those patients who have not previously had their tonsils removed, followed by removal of the uvula and a portion of the soft palate. Although it is the most common surgical procedure performed in the United States to treat sleep apnea, our surgeons perform expansion sphincter pharyngoplasty and lateral pharyngoplasty in the majority of our patients who have palate surgery for two reasons:
- They work better. Randomized clinical trials have shown better results with these two procedures, compared to the UP3 procedure.
- These procedures likely carry lower risks than UP3 because they entail tissue repositioning and less tissue removal.
Uvulatoplasty (Laser or Cautery-Assisted)
This procedure aims to increase the size of the airway by using a laser or radiofrequency to remove and tighten tissue. This procedure is performed with local anesthesia without sedation in an outpatient clinic.