Does surgery help stop snoring and what are the alternatives

More often than not, snoring can be harmless, except for the nuisance it causes to your sleep partner. However, If you have chronic snoring that has been linked to severe sleep apnea (Obstructive Sleep Apnea), or if you have enlarged tonsils or adenoids, and all other treatments have proven ineffective, surgery may be your only solution. Also, if you have a crooked nose or nasal polyp, surgery is your best bet at stopping snoring.

Types of Surgery for Snoring

surgery to reduce snoring

1) Nasal surgery

A blockage in the nose can cause you to snore. Nasal surgery can help fix this situation. Nasal surgical procedures your doctor may recommend include;

  • Turbinate reduction: Nasal turbinates are the long, narrow passageways that warm and moisten the air that flows in through the nose. They can cause swelling in your nose and block the airway. Turbinate reduction surgery decreases tissue size inside your nose and helps keep the air you inhale moist and warm.
  • Septoplasty: This procedure is done if you have a deviated septum and involves straightening the bone and cartilage that divides the septum.

 2) Soft palate procedure

Vibration in the soft palate causes snoring sounds. There are various procedures you can undergo to fix the soft palate and minimize its vibration. Some of these techniques include:

  • Pillar procedure (palatal implant): The pillar procedure is also known as palatal implant. It is a minor surgery during which three to five small braided plastic rods are surgically implanted into the soft upper palate of your mouth. The scar tissue stiffens as the tissue around these implants, and the soft palate starts to heal, keeping the tissue more rigid and reducing the chances of vibration and consequent snoring. It is effective in treating snoring and less severe cases of sleep apnea.
  • Soft palate radiofrequency: During this procedure, radiofrequency is used to cause damage to the soft palate. The idea is that as the soft palate heals, the scar tissue stiffens the soft palate tissue, making it rigid and less susceptible to vibration. There are two most common radiofrequency technologies;
    • Somnoplasty – this surgical procedure uses radiofrequency energy to shrink the upper airway tissue. Shrinking the uvula, soft palate, or base of the tongue results in an enlarged throat and nose space, which allows for easier, unhampered breathing. Somnoplasty is effective in treating snoring and obstructive sleep apnea.
    • Coblationa procedure that uses low-temperature radiofrequency and a saline solution are used to remove the problematic tissues gently and precisely. This procedure is low risk with little or no injury to surrounding tissue. 

3) Hypoglossal nerve stimulation 

This procedure involves stimulating the hypoglossal nerve, the nerve responsible for controlling the muscles in the upper airway to help maintain an open airway. A unique device is surgically implanted and activated during sleep. This device can detect when you are not breathing normally. It proceeds to stimulate the hypoglossal nerve to restore normal breathing.

4) Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty

 The soft tissue is extracted from the back and top of the throat using a laser in this procedure. 

5) Tonsillectomy 

A tonsillectomy is a procedure where the tonsils are removed to treat frequent infections that may cause snoring.

6) Adenoidectomy 

Adenoids shield the body from viruses and bacteria, but sometimes they can become swollen, enlarged, or chronically infected due to infections or allergies and cause snoring. In this case, an adenoidectomy procedure is carried out to remove the adenoid glands.

7) Maxillomandibular advancement (MMA)

 This procedure involves surgically moving the upper and lower jaws forward to help maintain an open airway. It is an effective way to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

8) Genioglossus advancement

The tongue muscle attached to the lower jaw is pulled forward during this procedure, making the tongue rigid and less susceptible to slumping during sleep.

Alternatives to surgery

It is understandable why you may rush to surgery to help eradicate your snoring problem for good. However, surgery is unsuitable for most snorers, and the risk for infection and other complications is possible. Fortunately, some options are available that are just as effective and cost less than surgery.

a) CPAP Machines

Continuous positive airway pressure or CPAP is a treatment procedure that can help alleviate sleep apnea. The CPAP machine supplies oxygenated air into your nose and mouth through a mask and tube. The mild pressure from CPAP ensures your airway stays open during sleep.

CPAP is ideal for sleep apnea patients. 

When you have sleep apnea, the throat and internal structures of your upper airway collapse and hinder free air movement in and out of the lungs, the mild pressure from the CPAP machine allows constant ventilation to reach the lungs directly. 

Consult your doctor or sleep specialist for help in determining if CPAP treatment is what you need to fix your snoring and sleep apnea problem. Read about other effective anti-snoring devices here.

b) Weight Management Program

In some cases, weight loss has improved significantly or even eliminated sleep apnea symptoms in obese patients. Being overweight causes fat to accumulate around the neck region. When you lie down, the excess fat puts pressure on the upper airway causing it to narrow and cause snoring.

This is for overweight snorers who are physically fit to take part in a weight management program.

c) Positional Therapy

Positional therapy is a therapeutic technique used to treat sleep apnea. Sleeping on your back also referred to as the “supine” position, can cause the throat tissues to relax too much and block your airway, making you more susceptible to snoring.

Sleeping on your side can help restore normal breathing. Positional treatment may involve using a special device on your waist or back to prevent laying on your back.


When non-invasive treatments such as anti-snoring devices fail, surgery may be your only option to relieve chronic snoring. Like other types of surgery, there are risks of infections and complications associated with surgery for treating snoring. Some side effects to expect include; nasal twang, nasal reflux, and some severe pain right after the procedure.

Finding out the root cause of your snoring problem is always the first step in finding the correct treatment. It is also crucial that you consult your doctor before you undergo any surgical procedure.

Remember, surgery to treat snoring and sleep apnea should always be your last result after all else has failed.


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