Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) and Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome (UARS) affect the sleep cycles of nearly 20 million Americans. These conditions not only cause problems with sleep cycles patterns, but may affect other aspects of overall health, including stress, weight management, hormone levels and energy throughout the day. Not to mention, restless sleep can affect your partner as well.
Such a condition is therefore worth treating to improve your overall quality of life.
Obstructive Sleep Apnea
OSA is a condition characterized by disrupted sleep due to low blood oxygen levels. These low oxygen levels are caused by a blockage to the upper airway, usually by the tongue. Patients suffering from OSA experience their tongue becoming stuck to the back of the throat during the night, and as their brain’s oxygen levels begin to lower they are woken up suddenly, only to fall back asleep and have the cycle repeat again. These repetitive cycles may lead to serious cardiovascular problems in the future. As previously mentioned, those suffering from OSA may also struggle with depression, daytime drowsiness, heightened stress and loss of concentration.
Upper Airway Resistance Syndrome
UARS carries some of the same symptoms, but this condition occurs in patients who suffer from tightening of the airways as they relax. Typically these patients will have naturally restricted or smaller airways, but as sleep relaxes the muscles opening the airway, breathing may become strained. The feeling is often likened to breathing in and out of a straw. If you recognize that you struggle with fatigue throughout the day or wake up with labored breathing, you may be suffering from one of these sleep apnea conditions.
Your Surgical Options
Because a range of factors can cause sleep apnea, a detailed evaluation will be conducted to determine the source and then strategy. Your tests may include skull x-rays to measure the level of obstruction, naso-pharyngeal exam (of the ear, nose and throat) and/or a sleep study to determine the amount of stress put on the cardiovascular system and oxygen levels.
Once thoroughly diagnosed, Dr. Elias will propose a treatment plan to approach your unique condition. Depending on your condition, a number of surgical options and nonsurgical treatments are available. A nasal CPAP machine may be recommended to be worn as you sleep, delivering pressurized oxygen through a nasal mask to limit the obstruction of the passage.
One of your surgical options includes uvulvopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP), which will remove or remodel excess tissue in the throat. The surgery is performed in the back of the soft palate and the throat, often containing excess tissue which when cleared may open up the airway and make breathing less labored. Similarly, a laser-assisted UPP (LAUPP) uses a radio-frequency probe in the hopes of achieving the same results.
In more complex cases, a UPP may be combined with orthognathic surgery (jaw surgery) to reposition the jaw in order to widen the airway. This procedure may be chosen initially if your condition is being caused by a misalignment of the jaw. Your surgery will not be a surprise; Dr. Elias and our caring team will guide you through the entire process, helping you feel comfortable with your surgery and hopeful for many nights of sleep without sleep apnea.
Success and Recovery
Your results and recovery time will vary based on the severity of your sleep apnea combined with the treatment approach you choose. With severe cases, it is important to note that a multilevel approach is often more laborious, but has a greater payoff in the end. Choosing one option on its own may offer a significant improvement, but if your diagnosis requires multiple treatments, it is best to do whatever it takes to yield a complete cure.
You are your best chance for recovery and healing. Following your post-surgical care instructions is essential for a speedy and thorough recovery. You will have a resource and friend in Dr. Elias, who will make sure your needs are taken care of, you are comfortable and that you are fully aware of the recovery process. Further, we will be available through any complications or if your healing requires more work after your first procedure. Rest assured, the Southern California Center for Surgical Arts has your back!
At the Southern California Center for Surgical Arts, we pride ourselves on your personalized care and helping you feel safe throughout your time with us. Like friends or family, we are there to answer your difficult questions, offer advice regarding your treatment and do what it takes to offer confidence and positivity to treating your condition. Please feel free to contact our offices to schedule a consultation with Dr. Elias: 818-696-4425.