What Is Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)?
UPPP is short for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. It is a procedure that causes elevation and stiffening of the soft palate and reduction of the uvula. It is intended to reduce snoring and sleep apnea.
Previously this was an aggressive surgical procedure performed under general anesthesia in the operating room. A large section of the soft palate was surgically resected along with the tonsils. This created severe pain and unpredictable healing with significant risks of complications.
Dr. Daniel Slaughter of Austin, Texas has developed a minimally invasive technique that can be performed in the office. It is frequently combined with nasal procedures such as balloon sinuplasty to reduce or eliminate snoring and sleep apnea. In this procedure the elongated uvula is reduced to normal size and a stiffening treatment is placed above the uvula area. The uvula reduction and stiffening are done with a unique treatment called thermal fusion. This stimulates the patient’s soft palate to elevate and lay in collagen to stiffen over 9 weeks. There is discomfort for about 2 weeks but it is generally well tolerated with most patients being able to work, talk, and eat normally. The risk of any complication is dramatically reduced with this technique.
What Does UPPP Treat?
Dr. Slaughter uses uvulopalatopharyngoplasty to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. UPPP surgery is typically recommended for sleep apnea if there is a visible elongation of the soft palate and uvula contributing to the obstructive sleep apnea.
Who Is a Good Candidate for UPPP?
Patients with the following conditions can benefit greatly from UPPP:
- Patients with snoring and obstructive sleep apnea
- People with long and floppy soft palate tissue
- Patients with a long uvula
Benefits of non-Surgical Sleep Apnea Treatment
Benefits of this modern UPPP that Dr. Slaughter performs include reduction of snoring, reduction of OSA, faster healing, minimal downtime, and the ability to do as an office procedure.
Risks of UPPP
The risks with our modern procedure are very limited. The patient will have a sore throat for about two weeks. Some patients may report transient choking sensations or some difficulty swallowing. We have not experienced any patient with any permanent change in their voice or swallowing.
How Is UPPP Performed?
We perform reduction of the uvula with a special low energy electric instrument. This is combined with an injection of a stiffening agent to the soft palate that stimulates the soft palate to elevate and lay down natural scar tissue. Patients are typically under IV sedation in our office and do not feel or remember the procedure. The procedure takes about 5 minutes and our patients typically leave our office within 15 minutes. This procedure is typically done along with correction of the nasal and sinus airway including balloon sinuplasty, septoplasty, and turbinate reduction.
A sore throat (described as a 5/10 pain level) is typical for 2 weeks. Pain is managed with pain medication and topical numbing sprays. Transient difficulty with swallowing can be expected. Typically there is no change in the patient’s voice. There is further change and improvement in snoring and sleep apnea for about 9 weeks.