Obstructive Sleep Apnea: Surgery


For some people, surgery may help improve sleep apnea, depending on the structure of the upper airway. The main objective of surgery is to make breathing easier by increasing the size of the upper airway. A deviated nasal septum may be fixed, or enlarged adenoids or tonsils may be removed. Removal of adenoids and tonsils is the most common treatment for children with OSA.

More extensive surgery can also be performed, such as remodeling the air passages in the throat by removing the uvula, tonsils, and part of the soft palate (uvulopalatopharyngoplasty). If no other treatment works, another surgical option includes making an opening in the throat to bypass the upper airway (tracheostomy). Air passes through a tube inserted in the opening and into the lungs. When this operation is performed for OSA, the patient keeps the tube covered during the day and opens it at night so air can flow freely during sleep.

Other possible surgeries include jaw remodeling or surgery for obesity, such as gastric bypass surgery.

Your doctor will help you decide if surgery is an option for you.