The use of oral devices and chin straps may offer a good snoring solution, but long-term and frequent snoring problems need extensive treatment.
Surgery for snoring is the most effective and foolproof method to stop snoring and treat sleep apnea.
What This Article Is All About?
Snoring occurs when the tissues at the back of your throat relax and block the airway. When your breath hits the tissue blocking the airway, it causes vibrations and hoarse, wheezy sounds we refer to as snoring.
Occasional snoring is pretty harmless. But frequent and deep snoring may cause further health complications.
Here are a few risk factors that may cause snoring:
- Being male
- A blocked airway
- Frequent alcohol consumption
- Nasal issues
- Family history
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Snoring disrupts yours and your partner’s sleep, and could make your night uncomfortable. Sometimes, snoring could be a sign of an underlying serious health problem such as sleep apnea.
Sleep apnea refers to patchy and irregular breathing during sleep. It even causes you to stop breathing at intervals.
Research suggests that a third of the men and a fifth of the women are loud snorers.
If you have a mild case of snoring, most doctors will recommend a mouthpiece to pull open the airways and keep the snoring under control.
However, when you have a severe case of Obstructive sleep apnea, your doctor may recommend a snoring surgery. Surgery is usually the go-to option when other therapies yield no results.
Pro tip: You could prevent snoring if you elevate the head of your bed by approximately 4 inches.
Surgery for Snoring: A List of Different Surgical Solutions to Stop Snoring
For severe cases of snoring, surgical operations can be successful in eliminating snores. Surgery is also the most effective treatment for treating OSA.
Surgical procedures are no one-size-fits-all. This is why your doctor will have a good look at your medical condition before they recommend surgical treatment for you.
If you have a bad case of snoring, here’s a guide to your surgical options:
#1 Palatal Implant (The Pillar Procedure)
The palatal implant is a small and most common surgery to treat snoring and less critical cases of sleep apnea.
Also referred to as the pillar procedure, it involves using surgery to implant plastic rods into the upper palate of your mouth. The plastic insertion is made of polyester and is perfectly safe.
These implants are eighteen millimeters in length and 1.5 millimeters in diameter each.
When the tissue surrounding the implant heals, the palate sets, and stiffens. Now the tissue is rigid and cannot vibrate as freely. This, in turn, puts an end to snoring.
#2 Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)
Doctors give the patients a dose of the local anesthesia before they undergo uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP).
The procedure involves removing the loose and soft tissues at the back of your throat. The removal of the tissue includes the uvula (the part that hangs at the opening of your throat), some of the throat wall, and palate.
Widening the airway makes breathing easier and keeps it uninterrupted. The surgery, however, may have a few side effects:
- Problem swallowing food
- Changes in voice
- A feeling of a foreign object in your throat
Surgeons use radiofrequency (RF) to remove the tissue from the back of the throat through a process referred to as radiofrequency ablation.
Similarly, when we use laser tech, we call it laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP).
Fact: This procedure may treat snoring, but it does not treat Obstructive sleep apnea.
#3 Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation
Hypoglossal Nerve Stimulation is a snoring surgery that refers to stimulating the nerves in the upper airway of your throat. This way, the muscles in the upper airway remain taut, keeping the airway open and reducing snores.
The stimulation happens via a surgically implanted device, which we refer to as the hypoglossal nerve. When you sleep, the device activates.
As soon as you have any trouble breathing, it stimulates the nerves and keeps the airways open to regulate breathing.
#4 Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA)
Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) is a long and extensive snoring surgery that pulls the upper and lower jaws forward to open up your airways.
The open airways are less likely to be obstructed. Hence it is easier to breathe, and you no longer snore.
But there is one major side effect of MMA: The surgical procedure causes facial deformity. This structural change affects how the patient breathes.
#5 Septoplasty and Turbinate Reduction
Sometimes, snoring may be a result of a structural deformity in your nose. Deformities in your nose structure may even be the reason behind Obstructive sleep apnea.
In septoplasty, the surgeon will straighten out the bones and tissues at the center of your nose.
Turbinate Reduction involves cutting down the size of the tissue in your nose that cleanses and humidifies the air passing through the nasal passage. Doctors perform this procedure using radiofrequency (RF).
Most surgeons will perform these two surgeries at the same time. The snoring surgeries will open up your nasal airway and allow you to breathe easily and snore less.
#6 Genioglossus Advancement
Genioglossus advancement is surgery for snoring where they pull forward the tongue muscle attached to your lower jaw. This tightens the tongue and makes it less likely to relax and fall back into the throat.
To perform the surgery, the doctor will cut the tiny piece of bone in the lower jaw at the spot where the tongue attaches to the jaw and then pull the bone forward.
The surgeon then uses a screw or plate to hold the bone fixed and in place.
#7 Hyoid Suspension
The hyoid suspension surgery is a snoring surgery where the surgeon pulls forward the base of your tongue and the epiglottis along with it.
This loosens up the airway and allows you to breathe more deeply and without obstruction. Hence, eliminating snoring.
To perform the surgery, the surgeon will make a cut into the upper throat, dislodge a few tendons, detach some muscle and pull the hyoid bone forward. Once done, the surgeon will attach the bone in place.
This snoring surgery does not affect the vocal cords, and the voice of the patient remains unchanged.
Fact: The hyoid suspension surgery for snoring is one of the most successful surgical procedures in treating OSA.
- Midline Glossectomy and Lingualplasty
Midline Glossectomy surgery will decrease the size of the tongue and open up your airway.
In this procedure, the surgeon will remove some parts from the middle and back of your tongue. They will trim the tonsils and remove half of the epiglottis.
This will widen the space in your airway, hence effectively reducing snores.
Pro tip: Wait for at least six weeks after the snoring surgery to resume your usual activities.
What Are the Common Side Effects of Surgery for Snoring?
Similar to how there’s a different surgery recommended to every patient, the side effects of the surgery differ depending on the type of snoring surgery you received.
Yet, there are a few common side effects that show up in most, if not all, cases of snoring surgeries.
Let us have a look at them:
- Pain and stiffness
- An infection
- Feeling the presence of a foreign object in your throat
- Soreness in your throat
Here are a few long-term side effects of snoring surgeries:
- Dry nose, mouth, and throat
- Continued or resumed snoring issues
- Physical discomfort that may last for a long time
- Troubled breathing
- Changes in your voice
Fact: According to research, as a side effect of snoring surgery, you may have difficulty swallowing.
If you have a fever or excruciating pain after a snoring surgery, immediately seek medical care. Fever and pain after surgery are usually signs of an infection.
How Successful Is Snoring Surgery?
One of the surgeries for snoring, laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is a well-received surgery to treat snoring issues and Obstructive sleep apnea.
Reports prove that it’s a clinical success and an efficient surgical procedure with a success rate of 70% to 95%.
However, there’s still a lack of evidence to prove whether the results are durable and if yes, then for exactly how long. Some research says that there have been a few delayed failures associated with the LAUP procedure.
How Much Does Snoring Surgery Cost?
Not all snoring surgeries cost a similar amount of money. Some may be a bit more expensive than others, depending on the use of equipment.
Understandably, your insurance may cover a few of the surgeries mentioned above. It depends on whether your snoring problem is a result of an underlying health condition.
For instance, if you’re suffering from obstructive sleep apnea, your insurance will cover the cost of your snoring surgery.
Given that your insurance company covers some of the costs of the surgery for snoring, you may still have to pay from several hundred to several thousand dollars.
In Australia, without insurance, getting surgery for snoring is an exy procedure that may cost you up to $10,000.
Over the Counter Anti-Snoring Remedies
Often, some over the counter home remedies may work just fine to help relieve your snoring problems.
Let us have a look at a few of them:
- Nasal dilator strips, worn across the bridge of your nose and taping onto the sides of your nostrils, can help relieve snores.
- A chin strap can help you keep your mouth closed during sleep, so you no longer snore through your mouth.
- Theravent® or Provent® are examples of nasal resistance valves that cause resistance in breathing out, hence creating pressure in and behind the nose. As a result, they cause you to snore less. But these valves are for one-time use, and you have to apply a new valve every night.
- Position therapy can also do the trick for many snorers – most people who sleep on their back snore. Positioning bumper devices such as air belts or foam-filled belts, shirts, or vests can help reduce snoring.
- Electronic necklaces or belts that vibrate when you turn to fall asleep on your back can also help you learn to sleep on your side. For most snorers, sleeping on your back is the worst pozzy to sleep in.
- Oral equipment is also helpful in keeping the snores away. An ENT specialist, otolaryngologist, or a dentist can fit those devices into your mouth for you.
Pro tip: Do not use muscle relaxants or sedatives; they can worsen your snoring.
According to a study, 4% of men and women in Australia have symptomatic Obstructive sleep apnea. Not only does this clinical condition ruin the quality of life, but it could also become a critical health issue on its own.
For severe cases such as these, snoring surgery is one of the highly effective treatments doctors recommend. While surgery for snoring may not guarantee a 100% snore-free life, it does – to some extent – provide relief from OSA and snoring.
If your snoring condition gets worse, and you want to look into your surgery options, make sure to contact your healthcare specialist.