For most people who snore, simple lifestyle changes and good bedtime habits are enough to alleviate the problem. For other, surgery to stop snoring can sometimes be necessary due to anatomical or physiological anomalies and for whom there is no “quick-fix”. This can make snoring a long-term medical problem with serious consequences.
Snoring occurs when the tissues on the mouth and throat (i.e., the upper airways) relax too much, vibrate, and potentially close off to become partially or completely blocked. This can be a result of:
- Being male and over middle-age
- Being overweight or obese
- Being a postmenopausal female (due to hormonal changes)
- Alcohol consumption
- Having a genetic predisposition to snoring or obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA)
- Having a narrow airway
- Having nasal/sinus problems
The narrowing and blockages that result in snoring can be significantly worsened if there is a physical anomaly in the nasal passages, mouth, or throat. Additionally, problems with the nerves or an enlarged tongue can contribute to snoring and OSA.
When snoring is severe and there’s a direct anatomical cause, surgery to stop snoring may be the solution.
Can Surgery Be Used to Treat Snoring?
When other therapies, lifestyle changes, and conservative anti-snoring solutions are ineffective, surgery may be recommended to improve sleep quality and overall wellbeing. The right surgical approach can successfully reduce snoring and treat OSA, but for some patients, the relief offered is only temporary.
There are several types of surgery to stop snoring; only your doctor (and ideally a head and neck/sleep specialist surgeon) can recommend which type will best suit you.
First, here are some terms you need to know:
- Uvula – this is the small, teardrop-shaped tissue that hangs at the back of the middle of the throat. You can see it in the mirror when you say “aaahhh”. It comprises muscle, connective tissue, and glands that produce saliva. Its purpose is to help prevent food and liquid from going up the back of your nose when you eat or drink. The uvula vibrates during snoring and it may, especially if long or floppy, block the airway.
- Epiglottis – a small mobile flap of cartilage that prevents food and drinks from entering the lower airways when swallowing.
- Hyoid – this is a small bone located under the chin. It supports the tongue and protects the oesophagus.
- Maxilla – made of two separate bones that form the upper jaw. They fuse below the nose on the middle of the skull.
- Mandible – the lower jawbone. It is the largest single bone in the skull and attaches to the skull at the temporomandibular joint in front of the ear.
Types of Surgery to Stop Snoring
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) – this is a relatively minor surgical procedure performed under a local anaesthetic. The soft tissues at the back of the throat (the uvula, part of the soft palate, and part of the walls of the throat) are removed to open the airway for easier breathing. (The adenoids may also be removed). This may be affected via conventional surgery or laser or radiofrequency ablation.
- Palatal Implant – this minor surgery involves surgically implanting small plastic rods into the soft palate to stiffen the palate and prevent its collapse and vibration during sleep.
- Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation – the hypoglossal nerve controls the musculature of the upper airway. Surgically implanting a device to stimulate this nerve can help open airways and reduce snoring. The device activates during sleep if normal breathing is not occurring.
- Septoplasty/Turbinate Reduction – septoplasty straightens the bones and other tissues in the nose to correct issues such as deviated septum. Turbinate reduction removes some of the tissues in the nose that warm and moisten air as it is inhaled. These procedures are often performed together to open the nasal passages for easier breathing and less snoring.
- Maxillomandibular Advancement – MMA is a major surgery used for people who have a facial deformity that impacts their ability to breathe normally. It moves both the upper and lower jaws (maxilla and mandible) forward to open the airway.
- Hyoid Suspension – the base of the tongue and epiglottis are moved forward to open the deep airway of the throat. Tendon and muscle are detached and the hyoid bone (in the front of the neck below the chin) is moved forward.
- Genioglossus Advancement – the tongue (a muscle) is moved forward at its attachment to the lower jaw (the hyoid bone). This is the small bone to which the tongue is attached; it is moved forward and reattached to the mandible (lower jaw) with a small screw or plate.
- Midline Glossectomy/Lingualplasty – this procedure increases the size of the airway by removing parts of the middle and back of the tongue. The surgeon may also trim the epiglottis and the tonsils at the same time.
All surgery carries risks.
General risks of having any of these types of surgery include:
- Risks of general anaesthesia
- Sore throat
- Long-term physical discomfort
- Voice changes
- Breathing issues
- Swallowing issues
- A sensation of something in the throat
- Scar tissue development
- Dryness in the mouth, throat, and nose
- Continued snoring
Surgery is also expensive. Associated costs include surgeon’s fees, theatre fees, hospital admission fees, time off work, and more. Private Health Insurance may cover some gap costs and, for a medically diagnosed condition, Medicare will cover some of the cost. You will, however, most likely have at least some out of pocket expenses related to your surgery.
Stop Snoring – Try This Before Having Surgery
The decision to have surgery to stop snoring should be a last resort after all conservative approaches to prevent snoring are exhausted.
Before you seek a surgical solution, see your doctor and, in consultation with them:
- Improve your sleep hygiene – aim to regulate your sleep patterns and minimise screen time, large meals, alcohol and caffeine consumption, and exercise before bedtime.
- Try to sleep on your side and raise your head during sleep.
- Aim to reach and maintain a healthy weight.
- Healthily manage stress.
- Use a mandibular adjustment device like SnoreMD.
- Find other natural stop snoring solutions here.
Give SnoreMD a Try Today
SnoreMD is a remarkably effective solution to stop snoring – no surgery required! For most people who snore, it is effective to alleviate (and even eliminate) snoring for a healthier life and better sleep. With or without some simple lifestyle changes, risk-free SnoreMD may be enough to help you reclaim your nights of restful slumber without a trip to the hospital and the risks associated with undergoing surgery.
Got any questions? You’re welcome to call us on 07 5370 9323 to have them answered.