Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP or UP3)
Enlargement of the tonsils and the soft palate can block the upper airway during sleep. When you sleep, the tissue in the back of your throat relaxes and can collapse to the point that you cannot breathe. As a result, you may wake up many times during the night.
What happens during surgery?
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty involves removing the tonsils and part of the soft palate. By removing this tissue, the airway in the back of your throat is opened, allowing for more comfortable breathing at night.
How effective is UPPP?
This procedure is very effective if performed on the right individuals. Some reports state that long-term success rates are low with this procedure when performed alone. However, if patients are selected carefully, and if other procedures are combined with UPPP, the success rate can be as high as 60-70%. UPPP is rarely the only surgery recommended to treat sleep apnea.
What are the risks of this surgery?
There are risks associated with any surgical procedure. Complications with UPPP are very uncommon. Risks most commonly associated with UPPP are bleeding, infection, the possibility of no improvement of sleep apnea, taste disturbance and tongue numbness (usually temporary), and velopharyngeal insufficiency (VPI). VPI is when the soft palate does not close completely when you swallow. This condition is almost always temporary.
What can I expect after surgery?
Following this procedure:
- you will spend one night in the hospital and will most likely be able to go home the following morning
- unfortunately, UPPP is a fairly painful procedure, the worst of the pain is usually over after a week
- you will be given a liquid pain medication
- the absorbable stitches used by your physician will dissolve after about 2 weeks
- avoid eating foods that are very hot, spicy or have sharp edges (e.g. chips)
- cool liquids are usually well tolerated after this procedure
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