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Can I Buy A Vowel? Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty

Sometimes when a patient has moderate to severe sleep apnea and it is impacting their quality of life, it may be necessary for Dr. Volpi to perform a surgery that sounds like it should be right out of a spelling bee.


There’s a reason it is usually shortened to UPPP. Dr. Volpi may opt for this surgical procedure when other sleep apnea treatments have been tried but have failed to improve the patient’s symptoms.

What is uvulopalatopharyngoplasty?

 This surgical procedure removes excess tissue in the throat, widening the airway. UPPP also seeks to improve the movement of the soft palate to help the airway remain open during sleep. Here’s a little more detail.

How is UPPP done?

In UPPP, Dr. Volpi removes soft tissue at the back of the throat to make the airway wider. This is generally what he removes:

  • All or part of the uvula (the soft flap of tissue that hangs down at the back of the throat)
  • Parts of the soft palate
  • Tissue at the sides of the throat
  • Tonsils and adenoids (if the patient still has them)
  • If an enlarged tongue is a factor, a small part of it may be removed

Who is a candidate to have UPPP?

This procedure isn’t something to consider to simply correct snoring, as it involves some risks of damage to muscles in the throat. It should be as a last option, of sorts, for treating obstructive sleep apnea that is seriously impacting the patient’s health and overall life.

We may suggest UPPP if you:

  • Have excess tissue in your nose, mouth, or throat that is blocking your airway
  • If you cannot tolerate CPAP
  • If you are not improving with CPAP

What are the results with UPPP?

This surgery improves sleep apnea in roughly half of the people who have it. It is best suited for people with abnormalities in their soft palate. In some cases, the benefits of this procedure will wear off or slacken and the blockage returns.

If you have symptoms that you may be suffering from sleep apnea, there’s no better resource than Dr. Volpi and eos Sleep. Call us at (212) 873-6036 to schedule an appointment.

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