Dr. Stephen Schendel
Plastic, Maxillofacial and Sleep Surgery

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Genioglossus Advancement

Genioglossus Advancement in Palo Alto, CA

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Millions of people battle sleep apnea every night. While there are many conditions that can cause a sleepless night, one involves an abnormality with the tongue that causes an obstruction of breathing. Dr. Stephen Schendel is a Menlo Park plastic and maxillofacial surgeon who offers genioglossus advancement, which treats the tongue. The genioglossus is the largest muscle of the tongue. It attaches to the central area on the inner side of the lower jaw. During surgery, the area of bony attachment, which is the major anchor point for the tongue, is cut and moved forward. This creates the additional space that is often needed for the tongue to settle and relax during sleep, which stabilizes the airway and allows an individual a restful night.

Surgical Technique

This procedure is performed for patients with obstructive sleep apnea. During surgery, Dr. Schendel will place an incision inside the lower lip. Using surgical tools, soft tissue and muscle within the chin will be scraped away so that the central part of the lower jaw can be exposed. To capture the area where the genioglossus muscle attaches to the jaw, small cuts will be made to the lower jaw. Once access to this muscle is gained, the rectangle of bone is moved forward. To secure this new position, small titanium screws will attach the bone fragment to the lower jaw. Dr. Schendel will carefully replace and reestablish the soft tissue to this area and use sutures to close the incision.  

During/After Surgery

Genioglossus advancement is performed in our accredited surgical facility under general anesthesia. The surgery typically takes between 1-3 hours. Some patients will be able to go home after surgery, buy some will remain in the hospital for a day. This is to ensure that the patient is breathing freely and that there is no risk for infection. There will be some moderate pain in the first several days following surgery, which can be controlled with a prescription pain medication. Patients will need to sleep with their heads elevated for about a week, and a liquid and soft diet is recommended for 1-2 weeks after surgery.

Expected Cost

The cost for genioglossus advancement surgery ranges between $2,000-$10,000. Insurance does typically cover a portion of this procedure. Our insurance and billing coordinator will help determine exactly how much will be covered once surgery has been confirmed.

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Average Cost  
$2,000 - $10,000
Recovery Time  
1-2 Weeks
Average Procedure Time  
1-3 Hours
Post-op Follow-up  
2 Weeks
Procedure Recovery Location  
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Genioglossus Advancement FAQs

Will My Appearance Change?

During surgery, the goal is to minimize any changes to the physical appearances of the chin. Because the small bone of the jaw is moved forward, there may be a subtle change in appearance, but it is very minimal and sometimes may not eve be noticeable by friends and family. 

Will I Lose Feeling?

The primary nerves that travel through the lower jawbone are not cut during surgery. However, they are adjusted and moved along with the rectangular piece of bone that is moved forward. During the healing process, there will be numbness and a loss of sensitivity for most patients. However, this typically returns in a few months. Some patients will not experience any numbness, while others may it on one side of their chin or all over. This can be permanent in some patients, but typically is not the case.

Typical Results?

Genioglossus advancement is a common sleep apnea surgery that offers good results for patients. Clinical results show that the majority of patients have success; these results go even higher when this surgery is combined with another sleep procedure such as UPPP. Some patients will be candidates for this, while others can have successful results with genioglossus advancement as a stand-alone procedure.

Related Procedures

*Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary from person to person. Images may contain models.