Palatal Surgery includes operations aiming to change the shape of the soft palate, in order to improve or stop snoring and pharyngeal obstruction.
This procedure can be done with diathermy, laser, ‘cold steel’ and sutures (stitches) or radio-frequency.
Coblation (radio-frequency) assisted uvulo-palato-plasty (CAUP) is the preferred method of the author. This is a procedure for people who are not obese and suffer from simple snoring with or without mild obstructive sleep apnoea.
The operation can be performed under local or general anaesthesia using a radio-frequency instrument that causes the soft palate to become stiff (due to scarring/fibrosis) and also re-shapes the uvula.
There is minimal risk of bleeding during the operation. The recovery is fast with antibiotics, painkillers and a local anaesthetic spray given after the procedure.
The recovery is fast with minimal time off work if it is done under general anaesthetic. The current trend is for this procedure to be done under local anaesthesia to reduce the patient’s recovery time.
This procedure is usually successful if the patient does not gain weight. Rarely, a second procedure may be necessary.
The aim of this operation is to change the shape of the uvula and the soft palate but also to remove the tonsils that block the airway.
It can be done with diathermy, laser, ‘cold steel’ and sutures (stitches) or Coblation radio-frequency, which is less painful (due to less thermal damage to the tissue compared with diathermy or laser and minimal or no blood loss compared to ‘cold steel’ dissection).
Coblation (radio-frequency) Assisted Uvulo-Palato- Pharyngoplasty):
This is a more extensive procedure that is used for snorers with enlarged tonsils and / or OSA.
The operation is always carried out under general anaesthesia and involves the re-shaping of the uvula and the soft palate together with the removal of the tonsils (tonsillectomy) using Coblation Radio-frequency.
There is no blood loss during the operation but there is post-operative pain and risk of bleeding relevant to tonsillectomy.
The recovery time is approximately 10 days. The recovery is fast with antibiotics, painkillers and a local anaesthetic spray given after the procedure to help the recovery and during this period the patient should refrain from work.
Again, the success of this operation depends on the patient’s weight gain afterwards. If the patient’s body mass index (BMI) is within normal limits (< 29) then the success rate is high.