Loud and frequent snoring is more than just a nuisance or an embarrassing habit. It can affect your and your partner’s sleep quality, and it can lead to other health issues. Snoring surgery should be your last resort after trying other treatments, but it may be the only option to fix a severe snoring issue. Here are some of the most common surgeries to treat snoring:
UPPP is a surgery that removes tissue from your soft palate, uvula, tonsils, or adenoids to create more open space in your throat. Snoring occurs when the tissues in your mouth and throat collapse and vibrate against each other while you breathe. Removing some of the tissue will prevent these vibrations.
The surgery is performed under general anesthesia and takes about an hour. Most people stay overnight in the hospital after the procedure, and full recovery usually takes two to three weeks.
UPPP is best for people whose snoring is caused by excess tissue in their mouth and throat. If your snoring is caused by something else, this surgery won’t be effective.
Laser Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)
The results of LAUP are similar to the results of UPPP, but LAUP is a minimally-invasive procedure with an easier recovery period. During the procedure, the soft palate and uvula will be treated with a CO2 laser, which will cause scar tissue to form. This will shrink and tighten up the soft palate and uvula, opening up the airway and reducing the risk of snoring.
LAUP usually only requires local anesthesia and can be done in about 30 minutes. Because no incisions are made during the procedure, you can go back to your normal activities almost immediately. For most patients, a sore throat and trouble swallowing are the only issues after the surgery, and these symptoms will go away within a few days.
Like UPPP, LAUP is an option for people who snore because of excess tissue in the mouth and throat. Although the procedure is much easier than UPPP, most people need several repeat treatments to get noticeable results.
Somnoplasty is a surgical technique that uses lasers to stiffen or remove the tissue in the uvula and soft palate. This is similar to LAUP, but it uses much lower levels of radiofrequency heat. The procedure creates burn areas in the uvula and soft palate that are absorbed by the body, which reduces the amount of tissue in the mouth and throat.
Somnoplasty requires local anesthesia and takes about 30 minutes to complete. In the days following the procedure, swelling in the throat can cause snoring to worsen. However, your snoring should start to go away after a couple weeks. The results will gradually get better for several months.
The Pillar Procedure prevents the soft palate from collapsing over the airway during sleep. The surgery involves placing tiny polyester rods into the soft palate. As the tissue heals around these rods, the soft palate will tighten up and will no longer collapse or vibrate while you sleep.
The Pillar Procedure is performed as an outpatient surgery with local anesthesia. It takes 20 to 30 minutes, and you can return to your normal activities immediately after. Some patients experience soreness and difficulty swallowing for a few days, but because no tissue is removed or destroyed, there should be minimal discomfort. You should notice an improvement with your snoring after a few weeks, but it may take a few months to see the full results.
Tonsillectomy and Adenoidectomy
If swollen tonsils or adenoids are vibrating as you inhale and causing your snoring, a tonsillectomy or adenoidectomy may be the best surgical option. These surgeries are more common for children than for adults, but doctors sometimes recommend them if it’s obvious that the snoring is caused by the tonsils or adenoids.
Tonsillectomies and adenoidectomies are performed under general anesthesia. To remove the tonsils or adenoids, the surgeon will either use a scalpel blade or a high-energy heating device to destroy and remove the tissue. Recovery usually takes between 10 days and two weeks.
Narrow or obstructed nasal passages can sometimes cause snoring. If you can’t get enough oxygen through your nose while you sleep, you’ll breathe through your mouth instead. Mouth breathing increases your risk of snoring because it causes the air to rush directly past the tissues in the mouth and throat, which can make them vibrate. The best nasal surgery for you depends on the cause of your nasal obstruction.
A deviated septum occurs when the wall that separates your nostrils becomes crooked or displaced. If you have a deviated septum, a nasal septoplasty could help improve your breathing and fix your snoring problem. During this surgery, the bone and cartilage of the septum are straightened out, which opens up the nasal passages. Septoplasty is usually performed under general anesthesia, and patients can go home the day of the surgery.
Another common issue is nasal polyps, which are soft growths that can form along your nasal passages. Nasal polyps can be removed with a polypectomy, which is performed under general anesthesia. During this procedure, the surgeon will insert special instruments into the nostrils to reach and remove the polyps.
A balloon sinuplasty is another nasal procedure that opens up blocked sinuses. This procedure treats swelling caused by chronic sinus inflammation. During the procedure, the surgeon will guide a catheter and a small balloon into the sinus. Then, the balloon will slowly inflate to expand the sinuses, and the surgeon will use a saline spray to flush out mucus or other fluid. After removing the balloon, the sinuses should stay wide open.
Dr. Ran Rubinstein, the founder of the Hudson Valley Sinus Center, is certified by the American Board of Otolaryngology and the American Board of Facial Plastic Surgery. He has over 15 years of experience as an ENT and specializes in sinus disorders. In addition to working in private practice, he also is an assistant professor at Columbia’s New York-Presbyterian Hospital.