Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is currently the most common surgery performed for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or snoring in the United States. It is performed only if weight loss, nasal medications, and nasal dilators do not help reduce snoring.
You will be given general anesthesia through a tube (endotracheal tube) inserted in your mouth or nose. This makes you sleep throughout the surgery and makes the procedure painless for you.
The procedure involves cutting (resection) of the tissue in the throat, including one or more of the following: the uvula, soft palate, and tonsils. It aims to increase the space required for obstruction-free breathing in OSA.
You may have stitches in the back of your throat. This part is sensitive; therefore, the surgery may result in relatively more pain after you recover from the anesthesia. You will experience pain while eating and talking. To alleviate the pain, your doctor will prescribe you pain medications. Other things that can help alleviate the pain include:
- Drinking cool water or other liquids
- Application of ice packs to the outside of the neck
You may also feel some food particles or liquids go up into the nose when swallowing. This is a mild problem that will usually resolve within the first few weeks of healing.
What are the risks of uvulopalatopharyngoplasty?
The common complications of anesthesia and surgery can happen in uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) as well. These include:
- Reactions to medicines
- Laryngospasm (causes shortness of breathing)
- Bleeding or hematoma (pooling of blood)
- Wound infection
Other risks that UPPP surgery carries are:
- Injury to teeth/tongue/lips
- Mucus in the throat
- Speech changes causing a nasal voice
- Persistence of snoring
Injury to the muscles in the throat and soft palate can lead to the velopharyngeal insufficiency, causing liquids from coming up into your nose when drinking.
What happens before the uvulopalatopharyngoplasty surgery?
You will likely be asked not to drink or eat anything for several hours before the surgery. Only a few drugs as advised by the doctor can be taken with a small sip of water.
What precautions to take after the uvulopalatopharyngoplasty surgery?
You will have to stay overnight in the hospital till the doctor ensures you can swallow.
Eat only soft foods and liquids for the first two weeks after surgery. Avoid hard or crunchy foods such as chips.
Rinse your mouth every time after meals with a salt-water (saline) solution for the first week after the surgery.
You may begin walking after 24 hours. You can resume your regular activities gradually day by day. Avoid vigorous exercises and lifting heavy weights for the first two weeks.
Drink plenty of water. Dehydration can make you feel feverish and weak.
You may have a low-grade fever after the surgery and that’s OK. If the fever goes beyond 101°F, call your doctor or visit the nearest emergency room.
Go easy while cleaning the back of your throat. Don’t try to brush it as the activity could dislodge a scab and result in bleeding.
You will have a follow-up visit with your doctor for 2-3 weeks after the surgery.
Recovery can take up to 3 weeks. You can resume school or office soon after you start feeling better.
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Common Medical Abbreviations & Terms
Doctors, pharmacists, and other health-care professionals use abbreviations, acronyms, and other terminology for instructions and information in regard to a patient's health condition, prescription drugs they are to take, or medical procedures that have been ordered. There is no approved this list of common medical abbreviations, acronyms, and terminology used by doctors and other health- care professionals. You can use this list of medical abbreviations and acronyms written by our doctors the next time you can't understand what is on your prescription package, blood test results, or medical procedure orders. Examples include:
- ANED: Alive no evidence of disease. The patient arrived in the ER alive with no evidence of disease.
- ARF: Acute renal (kidney) failure
- cap: Capsule.
- CPAP: Continuous positive airway pressure. A treatment for sleep apnea.
- DJD: Degenerative joint disease. Another term for osteoarthritis.
- DM: Diabetes mellitus. Type 1 and type 2 diabetes
- HA: Headache
- IBD: Inflammatory bowel disease. A name for two disorders of the gastrointestinal (BI) tract, Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis
- JT: Joint
- N/V: Nausea or vomiting.
- p.o.: By mouth. From the Latin terminology per os.
- q.i.d.: Four times daily. As in taking a medicine four times daily.
- RA: Rheumatoid arthritis
- SOB: Shortness of breath.
- T: Temperature. Temperature is recorded as part of the physical examination. It is one of the "vital signs."
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OxyContin (oxycodone)OxyContin is a prescription opioid pain medication used to manage pain severe enough to require daily, around-the-clock, long-term treatment. Serious side effects of OxyContin include noisy breathing, shallow breathing, breathing that stops during sleep (sleep apnea), slow heart rate or weak pulse, lightheadedness, confusion, unusual thoughts or behavior, seizure, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, dizziness, and worsening tiredness or weakness.
propofolPropofol is an intravenous anesthetic drug used for general anesthesia and sedation during surgical procedures. Common side effects of propofol include injection site burning, stinging or pain; low blood pressure (hypotension), reduced cardiac output, elevated blood pressure (hypertension), pause in breathing (apnea), lung impairment (respiratory acidosis), impaired movement, high level of emulsified fats in the blood (hyperlipidemia), and high triglyceride level in blood (hypertriglyceridemia). Abuse of propofol can cause death and other injuries.
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succinylcholineSuccinylcholine is a skeletal muscle relaxant used for medical procedures done under general anesthesia, including tracheal intubation, mechanical ventilation, and surgeries. Common side effects of succinylcholine include postoperative muscle pain, jaw rigidity, muscle twitch (fasciculation), respiratory depression, cessation of breathing (apnea), low or high blood pressure (hypotension or hypertension), irregular heart rhythms (cardiac arrhythmias), slow or rapid heartbeat (bradycardia or tachycardia), cardiac arrest, increase in intraocular pressure (IOP), high blood potassium levels (hyperkalemia), severe life-threatening drug reaction with excessively high temperature (malignant hyperthermia), salivary gland enlargement, excessive salivation, rash, hypersensitivity reactions, and others.