Sleep apnea surgeon finder?
February 26, 2016 9:17 AM   Subscribe

I recently found a search engine that finds sleep apnea surgeons who are board certified. I need help finding it again. Also, since I am so fed up with sleep apnea and I am seriously considering surgery, does anyone have anecdotal experience of having surgery for sleep apnea? Recommendations for finding the best doctor?

I have heard so much bad stuff about surgery for sleep apnea. But on the other hand, I am not very good at using my cpap and the idea of a dental appliance sounds unappealing. I want to try the Provent thing but I have read it only reduces apneas to about 10 per hour and I want to have less than 5.

So, anecdotes are welcome. Did surgery make your apnea worse, or make it so you couldn't use a cpap? Did you have pain years after? Did your sleep apnea return a few years after surgery?

Most importantly, who is the best sleep apnea surgeon? Honestly this problem affects my quality of life so much, and I have heard so many bad things, I am willing to pay to travel to see a really good doctor if I can make this problem go away. I am reading the Promise of Sleep right now, which is alost 20 years old, but it mentions the Stanford sleep center, a center in Walla Walla, maybe the Henry ford sleep medicine center, and a few others. Are these still the best? Bonus points for great surgeons near Seattle.

Thank you for any help! I can't take this exhaustion anymore.
posted by tweedle to Health & Fitness (4 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I had surgery for sleep apnea about 6 years ago. It was the best thing I ever did. I knew I did not want to go through life with a CPAP.
The recovery was very painful, to be honest. But no, I have not had pain since. Though I have not again been tested for apnea, to my knowledge it got a lot better. I don't feel exhausted upon waking.
What my surgeon explained to me is that special care needs to be given as to how much of the uvula is removed, or restructured. Too little and you can still have apnea. Too much and you can have other complications.
I don't know who the best surgeon is. I know I can recommend my surgeon highly. He is here in Houston and his name is Brett Cordes.
Good luck.
posted by jtexman1 at 9:26 AM on February 26, 2016

I had surgery for sleep apnea two years ago at Penn University Medical Center in Philly. They have a pioneering method of doing the surgery involving special robotics that they developed and perfected at the hospital. It is not just a U-3 but also involves the removal of tissue at the base of the tongue. It is supposed to be the best procedure at the best institution in the country, which is why I chose it.

One thing that the doctor made perfectly clear is that surgery is not guaranteed to cure you 100% of apnea, but depending on the severity of your case and your overall health (including your weight), it has been shown to improve breathing and oxygenation by at least 50% in most patients. That is my recollection of the conversation. You should do your own research. My point is, you should not expect to be cured 100% and you may still need to use a CPAP. The goal is to make your overall situation improve and make the CPAP more effective if still needed after surgery.

The recovery from the surgery is very painful in the sense that you need to continue to eat, drink and take medication, but swallowing is extremely difficult, obviously. I did not find myself in a great deal of pain when I was NOT trying to eat or take medication.... Tylenol took care of most of that. However, swallowing the Tylenol and the anti-biotics was a nightmare. I had to crush them up and put the powder in pudding or something and even then swallowing was extremely painful. But you can get through it...I'm sure there are surgeries out there that are much more painful to recover from than this least I was mobile and alert and able to move around and such.

As to effectiveness, I believe it helped me and was a worthwhile investment. I had a follow up sleep test but never looked at the results as I felt I was getting better sleep so I was satisfied. I should probably get another follow up to make sure I'm in the safety zone and don't need a CPAP. The prospect of needing a CPAP for the rest of my life is horrifying.

Anyway, here is the page at UPenn's website that describes the procedure I had done. I cannot remember the surgeon's name but she is probably mentioned on that page or if you navigate around the site.

Good luck!
posted by spicynuts at 11:06 AM on February 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

My husband had surgery for sleep apnea about 15 years ago (uvulectomy and two other things I've forgotten) because he couldn't tolerate a CPAP. The surgeon had a good reputation and was at an ear, nose, & throat institute. The surgery didn't work - from the beginning, he snored as much as always, and still does. No one can sleep in the same room with him. Also, he chokes easily from inhaling food or liquids, since he no longer has a uvula. The surgery was *very* painful to recover from. Considering the positive comments above, there might be new developments. I would suggest reading a LOT first, choosing a surgeon very carefully, and getting more than one opinion.
posted by onemorething at 8:54 PM on February 26, 2016 [1 favorite]

I had sleep apnea surgery (uvula removed and soft palate trimmed) about 5 years ago. It was extremely not fun. I was almost completely out of it for four days, and needed close care from my girlfriend. I think she took a couple of days off to look after me. I was in pain but able to leave the apartment for three or four days after that. The second week I was more functional and could have (in theory) returned to work, but I'm very glad I didn't have to. I did have some issues drinking for a month or two after the surgery - liquids tended to make me cough. I react more to spicy food after the surgery too. That is less now then it was after the surgery, but it's still a factor.

As for results, I ended up having reduced apnea and less snoring after the surgery. Unfortunatley this only lasted for two or three years, and then the snoring returned (without any significant weight gain on my part). As I understand this is a possible outcome of the surgery - enough of the removed tissue has regrown so as to cause problems again.

Overall, even though the recovery from surgery was unpleasant and the surgery was ultimately unsuccessful I'm not sorry I did it. I knew going in that this was not a guaranteed fix, so I'm glad I gave it a shot.

About 18 months ago I got a dental appliance, and I'm very pleased with it. I find it easy to wear, and it's very effective in deducting apnea events and snoring. You might want to reconsider that as an option.

My ENT, surgeon, and dentist are all on the east coast, so I'm not sure how useful they would be to you, but feel free to MeMail me.
posted by Maastrictian at 7:00 PM on February 27, 2016

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