How Successful Is Sleep Apnea Surgery?
Based on the risks involved and the expense involved, you would think that the procedure must have a high success rate. Otherwise, why would people keep getting it?
However, the truth is that sleep apnea surgery often leaves the condition as it was (or worse) so that a person needs additional treatment to be healthy. How often does this happen? It depends on the surgery. Here are some of the more common sleep apnea surgical procedures, along with their success rates.
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is the most common sleep apnea surgery. In this procedure, doctors remove throat structures, such as the uvula and parts of the pharynx or palate. This surgery requires at least one overnight hospital stay, and many people have a prolonged recovery period.
Despite this, the procedure only has a 40% reported success rate. Many people who initially see good results report that results diminish over time. In other words, their apnea returns, possibly worse than ever.
Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (removal of the tonsils and adenoids (respectively) are the next most common sleep apnea surgeries. These procedures are mostly used in children, and they have a reasonably high success rate in that case, perhaps as high as 80%. For adults, the success rate is only about 65%.
Tongue Reduction Surgery
The tongue is often the titular obstruction in obstructive sleep apnea. Reducing the size of the tongue can allow for more space in the airway and reduce obstructions.
There are many approaches to tongue reduction surgery. Some have a success rate as low as 38%. The most successful form is transoral robotic surgery base-of-tongue reduction (TORS-BOT), which has a 68% success rate.
Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation
Hypoglossal nerve stimulation involves implanting a device like a pacemaker in your chest. However, instead of stimulating your heart, the device stimulates your throat muscle to hold your airway open when you breathe. This procedure has a success rate of about 68%, and long-term studies show the results are stable over time.
Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) is a dramatic surgical procedure that expands your airway by moving both the upper and lower jaws forward.
The procedure is invasive, involved, and prone to complications–perhaps 14% of people with sleep apnea getting the procedure experience major complications. However, the procedure does have a high success rate, reportedly as high as 87%.