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Snoring and the Palatal Reduction Operation

  1. Most patients produce their snoring noise when the soft palate flutters at the back of the mouth. However, in many patients the snoring is also caused in part by nasal obstruction, by large tonsils, by a large tongue base or by being overweight and therefore increasing the tissues in the throat.
  2. Treatment is aimed at weight loss and reduction of drugs or alcohol at night. A splint can be worn in the mouth to keep the jaw open. The final option is going to be surgery. The standard procedure involves removal of part of the soft palate and the tonsils if they are present. This increases the size of the opening to the throat and stiffens the palate to reduce vibration.
  3. The operation is performed under general anaesthetic and takes about 30 minutes.The operation is usually performed by coblation – an ultrasound probe that causes less pain than other methods.Both sides of the soft palate are treated and subsequent healing produces scar tissue and the necessary reduction.
  4. Reports in the media about this operation have not always been accurate and it is important that patients who may be considering the operation are aware of the following points:
  5. Success Rate
    Initially about 80% of patients are helped by the operation. However, with time the palate softens up and again begins to flutter so the success rate long term is about 70%. Patients never have their snoring totally cured, but the aim is to significantly reduce the nose.


Potential complications

Bleeding may occur following the surgery. A small amount of bleeding should stop by itself, but if there is persistent bleeding please contact Mr Grey or seek urgent medical advice.

Palatal incompetence: The palate closes the back of the throat with swallowing and speaking. Initially the palate will not function properly so your voice may change and liquids may come out of the nose when swallowing. This is a rare and uncommon long-term complication. However, you will never be able to play the trumpet or other instruments such as bagpipes.

What to expect after the operation

  1. You will need 2 weeks off work.
  2. The roof of your mouth will look bruised and swollen and may appear red with yellowish/brown areas.
  3. A soft cool bland diet will be easier to swallow than hot spicy foods.
  4. Your breath may smell unpleasant for some days.
  5. Your snoring may not start to improve until 4 - 6 weeks after the operation.
  6. Your sense of taste will be reduced for several weeks, but will usually return back to its normal state. Occasionally taste disturbance can be persistent.
  7. Your throat will feel tight and your swallowing and eating may be affected. The operation works by tightening the throat, so this sensation may be unavoidable.
  8. There may be self-dissolving sutures in your throat. These will last about 1 week.

*See Post Tonsillectomy Discharge Advice for Pain Control.

If you have any concerns after discharge, please call our rooms on 9388 7474.


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