Surgical Snoring Solutions

snoring-6At the South West Sleep Clinic we search out and treat underlying health conditions, and offer advice and support on how to reduce snoring. Read more at How to Stop Snoring.

Where non-invasive snoring solutions and lifestyle changes (such as giving up smoking and losing weight) have failed, and when we have confirmed that soft tissue in your mouth is responsible for your disruptive snoring, one option could be surgery.

Enlarged tonsils and adenoids (small lumps of tissue, just above your tonsils) can be removed to open up the airway to cure snoring. This operation is more successful if you are of normal weight with a body mass index of less than 30 kg/m2.

The other areas dealt with by surgery are usually the uvula (the dangling piece of tissue at the back of your mouth), the soft palate (just beyond the hard roof of the mouth) and excess tissue around the base of your throat. Please be aware that surgery can be limited in effectiveness and duration, lasting only one or two years and there can be side effects or complications.

snoring-12There are four main types of surgery used to treat snoring

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), where surgery is carried out under general anaesthetic. This can be a snoring solution for sleep apnoea in adults where certain anatomical abnormalities exist.
  • Uvulopalatoplasty (UP), sometimes called laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)- this is performed under a local aesthetic; lasers are used to burn away the uvula and some of the soft palate.
  • Soft palate implants, effective where the vibration of this area is the cause of snoring. To stiffen the soft palate, several thin synthetic implants are injected into it. The roof of your mouth will be numbed by a local anaesthetic, but you will remain awake during the procedure.
  • Radiofrequency ablation (RFA) of the soft palate: an alternative to soft palate implants, again under local anaesthetic, where an electrode is implanted in the tissue of your soft palate and high-energy radio waves delivered through it to shrink and harden the tissue.

Surgery for Obstructive Sleep Apnoea (OSA)

snoring-13Surgery is not immediately considered as a solution for OSA because CPAP is evidently more effective for controlling the condition. However, if all else has failed and OSA is severely affecting your quality of life it can be a final option if you have:

  • A deviated nasal septum, where the central tissue between the nostrils is bent to one side, often following injury
  • Enlarged tonsils or adenoids, which can obstruct the airway. Removing these is often the first treatment for children with sleep apnoea as enlarged adenoids and tonsils are the main cause of sleep apnoea in children.
  • A small lower jaw with an overbite (when the upper teeth overlap over the lower teeth), which can narrow the throat

Beyond the surgical snoring solutions mentioned above, severe OSA sufferers might require a tracheostomy, where a tube is inserted directly into the neck to provide a free airway even if the airways in the upper throat are blocked.

Or, for the OSA sufferer who is morbidly or super obese (with a body mass index of 40 or more; 50 – 100% above the ideal body weight) bariatric surgery for weight loss could be the answer. This involves removing part of the stomach or installing a gastric band to reduce its size.


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