|Department of Otolaryngology –
Head & Neck Surgery
& BASE OF TONGUE REDUCTION
What are the uvula, palate, and tongue base?
The uvula is the small midline structure in the throat that dangles from the top of the roof of the mouth in back. The palate is the soft part of the roof of the mouth. The tongue base is the part of the tongue that is farthest back from the front of the mouth. Together, they have a role in taste sensation and more importantly, swallowing and breathing.
When is surgery indicated?
Surgery is indicated chiefly in individuals who have snoring or sleep disordered breathing as in obstructive sleep apnea. This is a condition in which a patient takes long pauses and stops breathing, between breaths. This can lead to a host of conditions including daytime tiredness and general fatigue. Patients who benefit most have mild or moderate symptoms, and are not greatly overweight.
What is done in surgery?
The uvula is removed, and the back part of the soft palate is trimmed. Also, a special wand is passed down into the tongue base to heat it up, causing shrinkage and scarring. The gist of surgery is to create more space in the back of the throat for breathing, and prevent collapse of the tissues at nighttime while sleeping.
What may be expected after surgery?
Pain is the biggest issue. Expect the worst sore throat you have ever had for up to 2 weeks. Because of this it will be difficult to swallow. It is not unusual to lose weight after the surgery from pain issues alone. You will be prescribed a strong liquid pain medicine to take.
Make sure to drink plenty of fluids. Nutritional supplements such as Boost or Ensure may help, as they may go down easier. Softer foods with a pureed consistency will be easier to swallow.
Bleeding may occur afterward, but is infrequent. Infection too, may manifest but is uncommon. Antibiotics are typically prescribed for several days following surgery .A low grade fever (less than 101 degree Fahrenheit) may be present. Snoring can actually worsen right after surgery until the swelling in the throat subsides.
Initially, food or drink may regurgitate up the nose, but this should get better with time. Rarely, this condition persists and requires correction. In up to 50 percent of patients, there will be no improvement in their obstructive sleep apnea. If you have been on CPAP, you may continue it after the surgery until healing occurs. Call the doctor if you should have high fever, trouble breathing, or significant problems swallowing.
Mailing Address (all locations): 12901 Bruce B. Downs Blvd. MDC 73 Tampa, Fl 33612