What types of surgery can cure snoring?

Abie H. Mendelsohn, MD
Ear, Nose & Throat (Otolaryngology)
Surgery for snoring depends greatly on the precise site, or sites, of vibration within the throat, and examination of the throat can identify areas that may contribute to the snoring. Enlarged tonsils or elongated uvula may be the cause, for example, but removing them surgically does not reliably cure snoring. Surgical correction of blockage of the nasal passages can alleviate mouth breathing at night, which may or may not improve snoring. Generally, people who snore should understand that there is no quick surgical fix and any plan for surgery should be personally tailored based on careful examinations.

The surgical procedures recommended to cure snoring include:

  • Tonsillectomy and/or adenoidectomy - tonsils and adenoids are collections of lymph tissue found in the airways. If these are swollen, they can obstruct normal breathing and cause snoring. This surgery is performed by an ear-nose-throat surgeon in the operating room.
  • Uvulopalatopharyngolplasty (UPPP) - performed by an ear-nose-throat surgeon in the operating room with a scalpel. This procedure has a success rate of about 50 to 90 percent and involves removal of tonsils and adenoids, if present, and excision of the uvula and most of the soft palate, resulting in a larger pharyngeal airway at the end of the soft palate.
  • Laser-assisted uvulaopalatoplasty (LAUP) - a 15 to 30-minute office procedure to trim and reshape the uvula and soft palate, requiring only a local anesthetic . It has a success rate of curing snoring in about 95 percent of cases. During the office procedure, you remain upright and awake, and leave with no stitches and only a minor sore throat.
  • Nasal polypectomy, nasal septoplasty or other surgeries to correct abnormalities that cause obstruction to air flow in the nose. These operating room surgeries help to correct a deviated nasal septum.
  • Weight reduction surgery done in the operating room by a surgeon, involving shrinking the size of the stomach or through bypassing the stomach, which may solve the problem for the obese snorer. As with all types of surgery, the risks must be weighed with the benefits.
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