Dr. Stephen Schendel
Plastic, Maxillofacial and Sleep Surgery

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UPPP Surgery in Palo Alto, CA

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UPPP (UP3) stands for uvulopalatopharyngoplasty. It is a surgical procedure performed by Menlo Park plastic and maxillofacial surgeon, Dr. Stephen Schendel. It is performed on patients who suffer from sleep apnea and other sleep disorders because of excess tissue that hangs within the uvula (the small tissue that hangs at the back of the throat). These patients not only suffer from sleep disorder syndrome, but often have trouble breathing, as well as ongoing sinus issues. Snoring is one of the most prominent reasons why patients find themselves consulting with a sleep expert. Dr. Schendel offers both surgical and nonsurgical remedies using UPPP.

Surgical Technique

During this procedure, the patient is put under general anesthesia. Dr. Schendel gains access into the mouth using mouth-opening props. Using surgical tools he carefully removes and repositions the abnormal and excess tissue from the soft palate and uvula. During the procedure, it is common to remove the tonsils, and in children, the adenoids. There are many modifications to the traditional UPPP technique that improve the airway at this level. Laser surgery use to be a more common approach, but in recent years, radiofrequency (TCRF) is a great alternative for patients who qualify. It is less invasive and not as painful.

During/After Surgery

UPPP can either be performed as outpatient procedure or may require an overnight stay in the hospital. The procedure is performed at our accredited surgical facility. Patients will find that for the first 2-3 days following surgery there will be some moderate discomfort. This decreases over the first few days. Liquid pain medicine can control this discomfort, and we usually expect that pain medications can taper off in 2-7 days. If the tonsils are also included it is well known to be associated with more discomfort and the healing process is slightly prolonged. A liquid and soft diet is recommended for 1-2 weeks after surgery. 

Expected Cost

The cost for UPPP surgery ranges between $2,000-$10,000 (and in some cases more). The variation in cost is determined upon whether it is just the trimming of the uvula that is being addressed, or if the tonsils and adenoids are also being addressed. Once a complete diagnosis has been given, a cost can be appropriated. 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  
2-3 Hours
Post-op Follow-up  
2 Weeks
Procedure Recovery Location  
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Can This Heal Snoring?

Obstructed sleep apnea is a serious problem for many people and can greatly affect the quality of life for these individuals. If excess tissue at the back of the throat is the problem, then UPPP surgery generally takes care of the problem and has a good success rate. This allows patients to not only stop snoring, but to enjoy a restful night of sleep.

Easy to Diagnose?

While not all sleep disorders are cut and dry and easy to diagnose, patients with an abnormality within the uvula (excess tissue) can often be diagnosed easily through an in-office exam. Initially, the surgeon will use a tongue blade and press down on the patient's tongue to check the soft palate tissue. This is the same test to check for those with throat and ongoing sinus issue. However, if overgrowth of the uvula does exist, it will be evident during this exam. 

What About Laser?

UPPP can be performed via a minimally invasive surgical approach or through radiofrequency (TCRF). Laser techniques were, at one time, a preferred method, but due to pain associated with the laser TCRF has all but replaced that approach. Surgery is used in more advanced cases while radiofrequency is used in moderate to less complex diagnoses.

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