When Your Sleep Apnea Requires Surgery
Sleep apnea is more complicated than just a bothersome snore.
It can be a life-threatening condition with serious consequences if untreated. These can include heart attack, stroke, or an irregular heartbeat. More commonly, it can cause troublesome sleeping problems. Like anyone missing out on a good night’s rest, patients with sleep apnea may become tired and irritable during the day.
Sleep apnea occurs, not surprisingly, during sleep when the upper airway is obstructed by excess tissue, large tonsils, or a large tongue. The position of the jaw may also contribute. Essentially, the body blocks itself from breathing comfortably.
In the serious cases of sleep apnea, a patient may experience up to 30 “apneas” (a temporary stop in breathing) over a 7-hour sleep period. In the most severe cases, apneas lasting 60 to 90 seconds could occur hundreds of time a night.
The National Sleep Foundation predicts that 18 million adults suffer from sleep apnea, as well as between 2 to 3 percent of children.
There are a handful of common remedies for sleep apnea, including therapy.
For patients with moderate sleep apnea, doctors oftentimes administer a Positive Airway Pressure Device. This is a machine with a mask that goes over the mouth that supplies air. Some patients also use oral appliance therapy, which involves a device similar to mouth guards.
However, for those suffering from the most extreme cases of sleep apnea, oral therapy doesn’t work. As many as 30 to 40 percent of patients see no benefit from therapy. For them, surgery may be their next choice.
Upper airway surgery may involve removing part of the tonsils, throat, or soft tissue.
The most common form of surgery to cure sleep apnea, however, is called Maxillomandibular advancement, or MMA.
It’s considered the most effective and acceptable surgical treatment of sleep apnea.
This procedure involves osteotomies, or bony cuts performed by intraoral incisions. MMA moves the upper and lower jaw forward, along with the soft tissue of the tongue and soft palate, which opens the upper airway.
While it sounds dramatic, MMA surgery is widely accepted as a profoundly successful method to cure severe sleep apnea.
The success rate for the procedure (the proportion of patients for whom the procedure works) falls between 94 and 100 percent.
That said, surgery isn’t universal.
Everyone has a different anatomy in some way or another. You should always consult your doctor before moving forward with a surgical procedure.
At Beaverton Oral Surgeons, we guarantee the highest quality in treatment, thanks to our implementation of the best tools in the industry. If you suffer from sleep apnea and have yet to find a treatment that works, it may be time to consider talking to your doctor and coming to see us, where we promise efficiency during your procedure and shorter recovery times. For more information, check out the variety of services we provide.