Palate surgery, such as uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP or UP3), palatopharyngoplasty, or uvulopalatal flap, is performed under general anesthesia in the operating room. Palate surgery is combined with tonsillectomy in most patients who have tonsils that have not previously been removed. Palate surgery (with or without tonsillectomy) is principally used to treat obstructive sleep apnea. The procedure involves a combination of tissue removal and tissue repositioning that aims to increase the size of the airway without affecting normal functions such as breathing, speaking, and swallowing.
View of the mouth before palate surgery
View of the mouth after healing from uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or uvulopalatal flap
View of the mouth after healing from palatopharyngoplasty
The following video presents a discussion of palate procedures, including uvulopalatopharyngoplasty:
Palate surgery carries a risk of bleeding, and the risk is higher if tonsillectomy is also performed. A major factor in preventing serious bleeding is to avoid the use of aspirin, NSAIDs (such as ibuprofen, Advil®, Motrin®, naproxen, or Aleve®), vitamin supplements, or herbal medications for at least two weeks before and after surgery. Approximately 2-4% patients who undergo palate surgery or tonsillectomy experience bleeding after surgery. Half of these patients require an additional procedure—either in the outpatient clinic or the operating room—to control their bleeding. Please notify Dr. Kezirian immediately if you have bleeding of a teaspoon or more. If the bleeding is significant, immediately seek care in the closest emergency department or call 911.
Infection is rare but not impossible after palate surgery or tonsillectomy. Patients typically receive antibiotics at the time of surgery to reduce the chance of infection and decrease swelling. Patients should not use mouthwashes following surgery because many of these contain alcohol that can irritate the lining of the mouth and interfere with healing.
The palate is important in swallowing because it seals the connection between the back of the mouth and the back of the nose. After palate surgery, it is possible to have foods, especially liquids, come up in the back of the nose or occasionally through the nose. This happens in many patients for a brief period (1-2 days) due to swelling in the area, but it is unusual for this complication to be permanent and significant.
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