If you’re suffering from sleep apnea, you already know the short-term consequences. Your nights are marked by snoring, gasping for breath, and waking up dozens of times each sleep cycle. Your days are no more enjoyable. You might be plagued by drowsiness, morning headaches, sore throats, dry mouth, memory problems, depression, and decreased libido.
And the long-term consequences can be even more serious. Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) has been linked to high blood pressure, stroke, dangerous responses to medication or anesthesia, and falling asleep while working or driving.
In other words, OSA can have devastating consequences for your health and your quality of life.
You may have already tried out various non-surgical options. Perhaps your doctor has suggested behavior modification, oral sleep appliances or splints, Positive Airway Pressure machines—these and other methods have proven very helpful for some sufferers. But if these options don’t work for you, it could be time to talk to Dr. Ford, Dr. Guter, and Dr. Gray about OSA surgery.
Obstructive sleep apnea is caused by an obstructed airway. The throat muscles may relax as you sleep and make it impossible to inhale fully with each breath. Or you may have a physical condition such as a large tongue, enlarged tonsils or excess throat tissue that blocks the free passage of air into your lungs. The size and position of your jaw can affect breathing as well, or your nasal passages may be involved.
In other words, Obstructive Sleep Apnea can be caused by a complex set of variables as air attempts to travel from nose to lungs, so your individual OSA diagnosis and treatment will vary depending on your individual anatomy. For this reason, an oral and maxillofacial surgeon like Dr. Ford, Dr. Guter, and Dr. Gray is the specialist you need.
Oral surgeons pursue advanced studies for a minimum of four years in a hospital-based residency program. There, they train with medical residents in the fields of general surgery, anesthesiology, internal medicine, and other specialties with a specific focus on the bones, muscles, nerves, and skin of the face, mouth, and jaw.
Because your anatomy is unique, Dr. Ford, Dr. Guter, and Dr. Gray will first carefully assess the causes of your breathing obstruction and, if surgery is indicated, will recommend a procedure or procedures tailored to treat your specific needs.
Among the specialized surgical procedures used to treat OSA are:
- Nasal Surgery—treats a variety of nasal passage obstructions such those caused by a deviated septum or a nasal valve collapse
- Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP)—removes or remodels excess tissue in the area of the soft palate and throat
- Pillar Procedure—a minimally invasive procedure which uses small implants to reinforce the soft palate and reduce vibration in the tissue
- Tongue Base Reduction—excess tissue can be removed surgically, or shrunk through the application of radiofrequency waves
- Genioglossus Advancement (GGA)—the tongue muscle is moved forward and tightened to prevent the tongue from collapsing backward during sleep
- Hyoid Advancement/Suspension—the small bone above the Adam’s apple is repositioned to expand the airway and prevent upper airway collapse
- Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA)—the upper and lower jaws are moved forward surgically to open the upper airway, after which the jawbone is stabilized in its new position.
These and other surgical procedures may be performed in a hospital or in our Virginia Beach, VA office, with traditional surgical techniques or using technologies such as radiofrequency waves, and can be minimally invasive or require a hospital stay.
It’s important to note that surgery is not always the solution to OSA, but we are uniquely qualified to diagnose the cause of your OSA and to recommend the most promising treatments, surgical or non-surgical.
If you—or a partner, family member, or friend—have noticed that you suffer from thunderous snoring, or episodes of gasping for breath, or that you wake up dozens of times each night, it’s a good time to make an appointment at our Virginia Beach, VA oral surgery office. It could be the solution of your dreams!