Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is a procedure in which soft tissues at the back of your throat, such as enlarged tonsils and uvula, are fully or partially removed and the soft palate at the back of your throat is reshaped. It is done to treat extreme sleep apnea caused by throat obstruction. The procedure widens the airway space, blocks muscle constriction, and improves throat and breathing function. It may be done in stages and require several smaller procedures.

LET YOUR CAREGIVER KNOW ABOUT:

  • Allergies to food or medicine.

  • Medicines taken, including vitamins, herbs, eyedrops, over-the-counter medicines, and creams.

  • Use of steroids (by mouth or creams).

  • Previous problems with anesthetics or numbing medicines.

  • History of bleeding problems or blood clots.

  • Previous surgery.

  • Other health problems, including diabetes and kidney problems.

  • Possibility of pregnancy, if this applies.

RISKS AND COMPLICATIONS

As with any surgery, complications may occur, but they can usually be managed by your caregiver. General surgical complications may include:

  • Reaction to anesthesia.

  • Damage to surrounding nerves, tissues, or structures.

  • Infection.

  • Blood clots.

  • Bleeding.

  • Scarring.

  • Voice changes.

  • Mucus in your throat.

  • Difficulty swallowing and keeping liquids out of your airway, nose, and mouth.

  • Changes in your sense of smell.

  • Reoccurrence of apnea symptoms. 

BEFORE THE PROCEDURE

Several days or weeks before your procedure, you may have a physical exam, blood tests, X-rays, or other tests. Your caregiver may start you on a weight reduction program. Your caregivers will review the procedure with you and discuss the anesthetic that will be used and what you can expect. 

You may be asked to:

  • Use a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) device every night for several weeks before the surgery. Bring your CPAP device to the hospital the day of surgery.

  • Ask your caregiver about changing or stopping your regular medicines.

  • Take all other prescription medicines with a tiny sip of water the day of surgery.

  • Eat a light dinner the day before the procedure. Stop eating and drinking after midnight the night before the procedure.

  • Quit smoking. Smoking increases the chances of a healing problem after your operation.

  • Take antibiotic medicine before the procedure as directed by your caregiver.

  • Arrange for a ride home after surgery. Have someone help you with activities during recovery.

PROCEDURE

  • You will be given a a medicine to make you sleep (general anesthetic).

  • Once you are asleep under general anesthesia, the surgeon will begin to make small cuts in the soft tissue at the back of your throat.

  • The throat tissue will be removed, such as enlarged tonsil tissue and parts of your soft palate.

  • Parts of the soft palate will be stitched and reshaped to try and eliminate obstruction(s).

AFTER THE PROCEDURE

  • You may feel sick from the anesthesia.

  • Your head will be elevated.

  • Your pain will be controlled with medicines.

  • Your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure will be monitored.

  • You may feel swelling and pain at the back of your throat.

  • Your caregivers will monitor you and begin to offer you liquids and light foods when you are ready.