Modified UPPP and tongue channelling

Modified UPPP is a procedure used for snoring and sleep apnoea which involves removing the tonsils (tonsillectomy) together with procedures on the palate to open the airway. This is usually combined with coblation tongue channelling, which uses coblation technology to create scarring within the tongue to reduce its size and bring the tongue base forward. This is not suitable for everyone with snoring and will only be recommended after a full assessment of the upper airway and discussion of the pros and cons and other options for each individual patient. For an in-depth description visit NIH website.

What to expect

The surgery is performed under general anaesthetic with an overnight admission to hospital. The throat feels tight and very sore, particularly with swallowing, for about 2 weeks but sometimes longer.

What are the risks?

Persistence of snoring / sleep apnoea – the procedure is generally aimed at improving rather than curing sleep apnoea and snoring and is not always effective, particularly in those who are overweight or have small tonsils.

Dehydration – this is a painful procedure and we provide pain relief after surgery (discuss this with your surgeon and anaesthetist on the day). However, if you are unable to keep your fluid intake up because swallowing is too painful, you may need to be readmitted to hospital.

Bleeding – the main risk of bleeding occurs in the first 2 weeks but there is a small risk even after this. Minor blood staining in the saliva is common but if there is more severe bleeding this usually results in admission to hospital. Occasionally surgery and / or blood transfusions are required.

Globus sensation – a feeling of a lump in the throat can occur, usually this is temporary but it can persist long term.

Nasal escape or air or fluid – due to the palate failing to close against the back of the throat. If this occurs it is usually temporary, but rarely this can be a long-term problem.

Altered tongue sensation, taste sensation or tongue movement – usually temporary but rarely can be permanent.

Swelling of the tissues of the throat which can rarely cause problems with breathing to the point of needed a breathing tube to be placed through the mouth or nose, or even through the front of the neck (tracheostomy) until the swelling has resolved.

Damage to the lips, teeth or jaw joint from the device that holds the mouth open during surgery.