If problems are identified that may be contributing to sleep apnea, and if the continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment fails, it may be beneficial to have surgery. These may include:

The following surgeries are specialized procedures used to treat problems that may be contributing to sleep apnea. Each has variable success rates, with the potential for surgical complications.

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)

This procedure involves the removal of extra tissue from the back of the throat, including the tonsils, the uvula, and part of the soft palate.

Laser-assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)

Although this procedure seems to help improve snoring, it’s not clear whether it also has an effect on sleep apnea. This procedure uses laser techniques to remove tissue from the back of the throat.

Radiofrequency Ablation

This is another procedure that improves snoring and may have some benefits for treating sleep apnea. An electrode that emits radio waves is used to destroy some tissue at the base of the tongue. Most people have noticed decreased snoring and decreased daytime sleepiness after ten 20-minute treatments. This is more effective for snoring but has not been shown to be effective in treatment of sleep apnea.

Tracheostomy

This procedure is very rarely performed and reserved for extremely severe cases of sleep apnea. It involves creating a hole (stoma) at the base of the neck and into the trachea (windpipe). A tube in the stoma can be plugged during the day so that you can breathe and talk normally. At night, the tube is unplugged, and you breathe through the stoma.

Nasal Surgery

Nasal surgery to remove an obstruction can serve as another way to relieve sleep apnea.