Rhinoplasty for Sleep Apnea

Is septoplasty an alternative to having to wear a CPAP machine for the rest of my life?

It wasn’t until the latter part of the 1900s that sleep apnea made its official way into medical literature. The symptoms, however, have been reported for thousands of years. At one point, there was a very real possibility that we would be calling this prevalent sleep disorder “Pickwickian syndrome”. In his, The Pickwick Papers, Charles Dickens gives us, Joe, a young boy with symptoms of what we would all now recognize as sleep apnea.  In one place, this is how one of the characters describes Joe to Mr. Pickwick:

“Sleep!” said the old gentleman, ‘he’s always asleep. Goes on errands fast asleep, and snores as he waits at table.”

Today, we are all aware of sleep apnea. Even if we, personally, do not struggle with the effects of this sleep disorder, we know someone who does. The story is usually the same. Excessive snoring becomes a major sore point in a relationship or constant tiredness, forgetfulness, mood changes, headaches and other similar symptoms prompt a night in a sleep center. This often results in sleep apnea being diagnosed.

Sleep apnea occurs when an individual’s breathing is interrupted during sleep. This means that they literally stop breathing, sometimes hundreds of times in a single night, which results in a serious oxygen deficit to the brain and the rest of the body. According to the National Institute of Health, in the United States alone, approximately 12 million people, between the ages of 30 and 60, suffer from sleep apnea. It is also a contributing cause of various health problems, such as, heart attacks, heart rhythm disorders, hypertension, stroke, epilepsy and diabetes. Roughly, 38,000 people die each year from cardiovascular disease related to sleep apnea.

Once diagnosed, the treatment options usually begin with what is currently the most popular, Continuous Positive Airway Pressure, more commonly known as CPAP. This involves either a partial or full-face mask worn over the nose and sometimes the mouth during sleep. A continuous flow of air is delivered through the mask to keep breathing regular. The CPAP can be very effective and the health benefits and improved quality of life can be significant. Compliance, however, is a major issue. Not everyone can adjust to wearing the mask or to keep it on throughout the night. Studies have shown that actual usage may fall somewhere around 50 percent.

There are options to CPAP, including specially designed oral appliances, that are proving effective in some cases. Depending upon the location and nature of the blockage that is preventing proper breathing, surgery may be a feasible alternative. Many people think of rhinoplasty as being primarily a cosmetic procedure, but thousands of patients seek this remedy for medical reasons. A deviated septum leading to obstructed breathing, including sleep apnea, is one of those reasons.

If you are experiencing sleep apnea or other breathing issues, consider consulting with an experienced rhinoplasty surgeon. There you will learn about septoplasty, the procedure that removes or reduces nasal obstruction by straightening the nasal septum through trimming, repositioning and replacing cartilage, bone or both. Your surgeon will be able to advise you whether your particular issue can be addressed through surgery.

Experienced, board certified and dedicated, Dr. Geoffrey Tobias was recognized 12 times as “best in his field” by New York Magazine. When you need a highly-skilled and experienced rhinoplasty surgeon, you could not make a better decision than to request a consultation with Dr. Tobias. To start that process, simply click here.

Posted in: Rhinoplasty

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