Lesson #4: How Shawn “Unclogged His Pipes”…and Cured His Sleep Apnea


I hope you’ve been enjoying this e-course on alternatives to CPAP – and are ready to take action to cure your

In today’s lesson I’m going to tell you about throat surgery, and Shawn’s surgery experience. (Shawn is one of 9 case studies in my book here: http://ApneaTreatmentGuide.com/provensleepapneatreatments/ )

So grab a coffee and read on!

Throat surgery – “Unclogging the pipes” to cure apnea

What exactly does throat surgery for apnea sufferers involve?

Simply stated, throat surgery for sleep apnea is “unclogging the pipes”. As with any obstruction, figuring out what’s causing the
clog is the key to correcting the problem. Because with sleep apnea, it’s often a combination of obstructions.

The idea behind throat surgery is to remove excess throat tissue. It is this excess tissue that is often – but not always – causing
the throat blockage.

What kinds of operations are there to unblock the throat? One procedure is called…wait for it…uvulopalatopharyngoplasty! Thankfully, this procedure also goes by an acronym: UPPP.  UPPP removes most, if not all, of the dangly thing in the back of the throat (the “uvula”).

As well as removal or trimming of the uvula, taking out the tonsils and adenoids is often part of “unclogging the pipes”. It is common to do the uvula, tonsils and adenoids in one surgical procedure.

A new procedure for the uvula is called “Pillar procedure”. It involves implants to the upper area of the soft pallet. The implant is a plastic or fiber material meant to stiffen tissue to prevent movement of the uvula and other tissue involved in airway obstruction.

The tongue can also be a cause of throat blockage. Holding the tongue in place is a surgical procedure used to treat sleep apnea.

There are a couple of accepted procedures to hold the tongue from falling back and closing the airway.  The first is called “post tongue advancement”.

The tongue muscle is attached to a tiny bone in the front of your jaw.  Via a surgical procedure, the bone is cut free, moved forward and screwed into place.  With the bone moved forward, it pulls the muscle and the tongue forward.  This reduces the effect of the tongue falling back and obstructing the airway.

Other procedures remove part of the actual tongue to reduce its size.  These are a bit graphic for this discussion 🙂

Okay – enough of the medical jargon! Let’s get right into the case study. For today’s lesson I’ll be discussing Matt, whose throat surgery cured his apnea.

Shawn’s Throat Surgery: “My throat was on fire”

Shawn is an athlete turned sports marketer. Since his college football days, Shawn has put on a few pounds, but is not what you’d call fat.

Shawn first suspected something wrong in college.  He’d wake up gagging for air.  However, being a 19-20 yr old, the invincibility of youth put these thoughts on the back burner.

His roommates often told him of his snoring, which became famous in his dormitory.  His first awareness of the term “sleep apnea” came from an early America Online search in 1995 – but it wasn’t until 2003 that the subject of sleep apnea arose again.

Following an examination and doctor’s questions regarding fatigue, Shawn’s doctor made the connection between Shawn’s gagging while asleep and sleep apnea. A sleep study was scheduled for Shawn and, not surprisingly, the study confirmed moderate to severe apnea.

Being in the sports arena, Shawn knew of Reggie White and of his death, which was partially attributed to sleep apnea. Still, the seriousness didn’t hit home because Reggie, like most NFL linemen, was a hulk of a man. Shawn was a little overweight but not the size of Reggie.

Shawn underwent two sleep studies. The first confirmed a diagnosis and a second tested the effectiveness of a CPAP device.  There was a minor improvement with a CPAP but Shawn didn’t feel he got any sleep.  The nasal mask made him hyperventilate.

Realizing CPAP was not a solution, he discussed results and prognosis with his doctor. Different solutions were offered to cure his apnea. It was finally decided that Shawn would have the following procedures:

  1. Correction of deviated septum
  2. Removal of tonsils
  3. Removal of adenoids
  4. Reduction of uvula
  5. Repose tongue advancement and hyoid suspension

Shawn woke from surgery with his nose packed, tongue swollen, throat on fire and an oxygen mask over his face.  He couldn’t talk or scream. Panic set in and caused him to rip off the mask, tear out IV lines and literally push the panic button.

But Shawn survived – and he learned a lot about how to deal with throat surgery.

If you would like to read the rest of Shawn’s experience, including his advice for others considering throat surgery, you can get all of the details at:


To your good health,

Marc MacDonald, M.Sc.
Editor, ApneaTreatmentGuide.com

Previous Lessons:

Lesson #1: How Singing Can Cure Your Sleep Apnea

Lesson #2: Tell Your Sleep Apnea to Stick It!

Lesson #3: How a Dental Device Cured John’s Sleep Apnea

Leave A Response

* Denotes Required Field