Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or UPPP is a procedure designed to open the throat to allow improved breathing in patients with obstructive sleep apnea. The procedure is often combined with tonsillectomy. This surgery requires about a one hour general anesthesia and always requires an overnight stay in the hospital.
The post operative recovery is associated with significant amount of discomfort that is treated with a combination of steroids and oral pain medication.
The surgery involves removing the tonsils if present and trimming or reconstructing the uvula and soft palate. The tissues are then sewn together in an effort to expand the back of the throat to allow a better passage of air during sleep.
Reflux of fluid up into the nose with swallowing also called velopharyngeal insufficiency; this is uncommon and rarely presents a long term problem.
Pain occurs in all patients and usually resolves over a two to four week period. Patients can typically return to work after two weeks.
Some patients will have an altered sense of taste that can last for weeks to months.
In the immediate post-operative period both ear pain and pain upon opening the jaw are common. This can be alleviated to some degree by chewing gum.
UPPP is often done in combination with surgery at the base of the tongue or the nasal cavity to correct nasal obstruction. This is all part of a multi-level approach to treatment of sleep apnea.