Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is surgery to remove excess tissue from the back of the mouth and the throat. The tonsils and adenoids, if present, may also be removed.
UPPP is most often done to treat sleep apnea which causes pauses in breathing during sleep. Rarely, it may be done to treat excessive snoring. Muscles in the back of your throat relax when you sleep. When the muscles relax, the soft tissue they support can collapse into the airway. The narrowed airway can cause snoring and sleep apnea.
UPPP removes excess soft tissue to keep the airway open during sleep. It may be done if other methods of controlling your condition have not been helpful.
Problems from the procedure are rare, but all procedures have some risk. Your doctor will review potential problems, like:
Some patients do not respond to this surgery. Other methods to control sleep apnea may need to be continued after the procedure.
Before your procedure, talk to your doctor about ways to manage factors that may increase your risk of complications, such as:
This surgery is more successful in those who maintain a healthy weight.
Your doctor may do the following:
Before arriving for surgery:
Certain medications may cause complications during the procedure or recovery. These medications may need to be stopped up to one week before the procedure. Talk to your doctor before the procedure about all medications, herbs, and supplements you are taking.
General anesthesia will be used. It will block pain and keep you asleep through the procedure.
The doctor can gain access to the area through the mouth. Incisions will be made to remove excess tissue. Your tonsils and adenoids may also be removed at this time. A special tool with electrical current or clamps and ties will be used to stop bleeding at the site. Sutures may also be used to close some incisions.
After the operation, you will be taken to the recovery room for observation.
Anesthesia will prevent pain during surgery. After surgery, you may have severe pain. Pain can be managed with medications.
This is done in a hospital. The usual length of stay is 1 day to make sure you can swallow. If you have any problems, you may need to stay longer. In other cases, you may not have to stay overnight.
Right after the procedure, you will be in a recovery room where your blood pressure, pulse, and breathing will be monitored. Recovery may also include:
During your stay, the hospital staff will take steps to reduce your chance of infection, such as:
There are also steps you can take to reduce your chances of infection, such as:
Call your doctor if any of these occur:
If you think you have an emergency, call for emergency medical services right away.
American Academy of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery
American Sleep Apnea Association
Canadian Sleep Society
Canadian Society of Otolaryngology
Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UP 3). Ear, Nose, and Throat Center of Utah website. Available at: http://entcenterutah.com/files/Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty-post-op-instructions.pdf. Accessed May 5, 2014.
Varieties of OSA surgery. American Sleep Apnea Association website. Available at: http://www.sleepapnea.org/treat/treatment-options/surgery.html. Accessed May 5, 2014.
Khan A, Ramar K, Maddirala S, Friedman O, Pallanch JF, Olson EJ. Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty in the management of obstructive sleep apnea: The Mayo Clinic experience. Mayo Clin Proc. 2009;84(9):795-800.
Last reviewed June 2016 by Donald Buck, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.