Traditionally, uvulopalatoharyngoplasty (UPPP) was performed for snoring. UPPP removes excess tissues in the throat such as excess uvula tissue, tonsils, adenoids, and tissues within the pharynx. UPPP widens the airway, which usually results in a decrease in snoring. Although the inpatient stay is only a day or two, full recovery can take up to three weeks. During recovery, swallowing is extremely difficult. In addition, although UPPP is quite effective in decreasing snoring, over the long term it cures only 46% to 73% of cases.
A modification of UPPP is laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP). In this procedure, the surgeon uses a laser to shorten the soft palate and cut away the uvula. LAUP may involve from two to five outpatient sessions, spaced from four to six weeks apart and each lasting for about 30 minutes. This procedure isnít recommended for sleep apnea patients or light snorers but for those whose snoring is loud and disruptive.
Nasal surgery to remove obstructions in the nose or correct a deviated septum is recommended when the cause of snoring is only significant blocking of the nose.
Genioglossus and hyoid advancement prevents collapse of the lower throat by pulling tongue muscles forward. The genioglossus is a major tongue muscle that advances, retracts and depresses the tongue. The hyoid is a u-shaped bone at the base of the tongue that supports the tongue muscles. This procedure is used in treating OSA (obstructive sleep apnea).
The tongue suspension procedure keeps the tongue from falling back over the airway during sleep. A small screw is inserted into the lower jawbone and stitches below the tongue. This procedure is usually performed along with others and is potentially reversible.
Although currently in use, all aspects of new radio frequency procedures are still under study as to their effects on health and their effectiveness.
Radio frequency tissue ablation (RFTA) also known as Somnoplasty, uses a needle electrode that emits energy to shrink excess tissue. The tissue is then naturally reabsorbed by the body. Performed under local anesthesia it's an outpatient procedure designed to minimize the bleeding and pain associated with other techniques. Like LAUP, more than one session may be needed.
An even newer type of procedure using radiofrequency energy is called coblation channeling. Unlike somnoplasty and other procedures that shrink tissue, coblation channeling both shrinks and removes excess tissue.