Jaw Surgery to Cure Sleep Apnea (Guest Post)

Many patients ask their doctors (and us) about alternatives to PAP therapy for obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). While PAP is the gold-standard for treating OSA, there are many patients who can’t tolerate it, refuse to use PAP every night or are looking for an occasional alternative to using PAP every night.

In this blog series, we will ask experts to explain alternative therapies. Each expert will detail how the therapy works, who is a good candidate (and who isn’t) and where to go for more information.

What if there were a one-time procedure that could cure your sleep apnea for good, no mask required? Bimaxillary advacement surgery–a complicated term for moving both the upper and lower jaw forward–attempts to do just that. 

Bimaxillary Advancement Surgery Basics

Bimaxillary advancement surgery, also known as maxillomandibular advancement (MMA) surgery, moves both the upper and lower jaw forward, creating a larger airway and making it easier for the patient to breathe. This surgery has a success rate of over 90 percent and the majority of patients do not have to continue using the CPAP device after the surgery is complete.

jaw-surgery-before-after-pictures

During the procedure, the surgeon will mobilize the upper and lower jaw and move them forward, securing them with small titanium plates and screws. In some cases, the surgery also involves inserting braces, arch bars, or rubber bands on the teeth for up to six weeks in order to stabilize the patient’s bite. The jaw is not wired shut and the patient can resume a diet of soft foods within seven to ten days of the operation.

Bimaxillary Advancement Surgery Advantages & Drawbacks

Some patients choose bimaxillary advancement surgery because:

  • It eliminates CPAP therapy and oral device use in a majority of cases.
  • It offers a permanent treatment for OSA.
  • It has a significantly higher rate of success than other sleep apnea surgeries.
  • A recent study of 50 patients found that bimaxillary advancement surgery improved sleep apnea symptoms while also decreasing patient blood pressure and body mass index (BMI) over time.

However, bimaxillary advancement surgery is not the best choice for all sleep apnea sufferers.

  • This surgery is not recommended for those with high BMIs or those with certain other serious health issues.
  • For those that are compliant and using their CPAP machine correctly there is no need to look for alternative solutions.
  • This surgery requires some amount of recovery time.

To learn more about bimaxillary advancement surgery as a treatment for OSA, speak with your doctor about the option and whether it might fit your needs.

Comments

  1. Mark Brogdon Reply

    I recently had this surgery at Shands Hospital at the Univ of Florida and it isn’t bad. It sounds way worse than it is and I have NO regrets.

    The surgery itself isn’t that painful. They controlled my pain with ibuprofen starting the night of surgery and after about 5 days, I didn’t need it anymore. The hardest part is the initial swelling, which lasts about 4 days. After that, you return to normal fairly quickly. The swelling doesn’t hurt, it just makes everything so tight and it does mess up your sinuses for a month or so. You feel like you have a bad sinus infection.

    The liquid diet you start out with suck, plain and simple. Your lips are numb the first few days and you have to eat through a syringe. It was on Day before I was drinking from a cup…. carefully. I still had some numbness and it would spill easy, but it makes you feel so much better to finally be in a cup and not a syringe.

    I don’t regret this surgery at all. By the 4th night, I was sleeping throughout the entire night and despite the swelling and congestion, I could already see a marked difference in my sleep quality. My morning 5, I was waking up and felt more refreshed after a nights sleep than I can even remember in recent times.

    The surgery was not hard to obtain. My insurance company initially denied it because they thought it was for cosmetic purposes. My doctor’s office immediately contacted them to do a peer-to-peer review and thoroughly discussed my xrays, CAT scan, and sleep study results. The surgery was approved at the end of their presentation. This was all on a Thursday and I was in surgery at 6am Monday morning.

    If CPAP isn’t working for you, I saw pursue this surgery. My blood pressure and pulse rate as well as my sleep quality, mood, and general attitude have improved ten fold. This surgery is well worth every minute of the initial discomfort.

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