Laser-assisted Uvulopalatoplasty

What you should know

  • Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is a procedure that uses a laser to remove tissues in your throat. LAUP is used to treat loud snoring and may also be used for mild obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). During sleep the muscles in your throat may get very relaxed. This can block part of your airway (passage from your mouth to your lungs) and lead to snoring. Snoring happens when tissues in your mouth are vibrated by the fast-moving air you breathe in. These tissues, usually the soft palate and uvula, are found in the back of your mouth. OSA can happen if your airway gets completely blocked by tissues at times when you sleep. With OSA, your body may run out of air and you may gasp or wake up to catch your breath. Ask your caregiver for more information about snoring and sleep apnea.

  • During LAUP, your caregiver uses a laser to remove parts of your soft palate or uvula. A laser is a very powerful beam of light that can cut away tissues. Your soft palate is the back part of the roof of your mouth. The uvula is the small fleshy structure that hangs down at the back of your throat. LAUP is usually done with local anesthesia and finished in a few minutes. You will be able to go home soon after the procedure is done. You may need to return for more LAUP sessions if you still snore loudly. Having LAUP may let you breathe more easily, stop your snoring, and improve your sleep.

Care Agreement

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.


  • You may have an allergic reaction to the anesthesia medicine and have trouble breathing. After the LAUP, you may have a sore throat and a hard time swallowing for a few days. You may lose some weight when you cannot eat or drink enough. You may have bleeding, get an infection, or your voice sounds may change. You may also lose your ability to taste food for awhile. It may take some time before your snoring decreases or disappears. Your snoring may return or get worse, and you may need more LAUP sessions before your snoring disappears. You may still have OSA or get OSA, but not know it as your snoring may get better.

  • If you do not have LAUP, you will still snore and it may get louder. You may have or get OSA, which can cause you to be very tired all the time. Having OSA can lead to bad problems with increased blood pressure, and brain and heart problems. If you already have OSA, it may get worse and give you more breathing problems. Having heart and brain problems for a long time increases your risk for heart attacks and stroke. Ask your caregiver if you have questions or concerns about your procedure, treatment, or care.

Getting Ready

The week before your procedure:

  • Your caregiver may teach you things you need to know about your condition and the LAUP procedure. He will tell you what to expect and what you need to do before and after your procedure.

  • Ask your caregiver if you need to stop using aspirin or any other prescribed or over-the-counter medicine before your procedure or surgery.

  • You may need to have a polysomnography (sleep study) test to check if you have OSA. During this test, your caregiver places wires on your head and body. These are connected to a machine that watches how your brain, heart, and lungs function while you sleep. The machine shows how many times you wake up during the night. It also monitors your body and eye movements, and how deeply you sleep. Ask your caregiver for more information about polysomnography.

  • You may also need pharyngoscopy to let caregivers see problems in your throat. During pharyngoscopy, your caregiver uses a soft thin tube which has a light and camera at the end.

  • You may need to have your blood and urine tested. X-rays of your head may be taken. You may also need to have an electrocardiography (EKG). This will tell your caregiver if your heart is in good shape. Ask your caregiver for more information about these and other tests that you may need. Write down the date, time, and location of each test.

The night before your procedure:

  • If you have diabetes, ask your caregiver for special instructions about what you may eat and drink before your procedure. If you use medicine to treat diabetes, your caregiver may have special instructions about using it before the procedure. You may need to check your blood sugar more often before and after having your procedure.

  • Ask caregivers about directions for eating and drinking.

The day of your procedure:

  • Write down the correct date, time, and location of your procedure.

  • Bring your medicine bottles or a list of your medicines when you see your caregiver. Tell your caregiver if you are allergic to any medicine. Tell your caregiver if you use any herbs, food supplements, or over-the-counter medicine.

  • You or a close family member will be asked to sign a legal document called a consent form. It gives caregivers permission to do the procedure or surgery. It also explains the problems that may happen, and your choices. Make sure all your questions are answered before you sign this form.


What will happen?

You may be asked to change into a hospital gown. You will be asked to sit on a chair and tilt your head up. Anesthesia medicine may be sprayed inside your mouth. After a few minutes, other anesthesia medicine will be injected inside your mouth into your soft tissues. Anesthesia medicine will decrease or make pain disappear completely during your LAUP. Special instruments will be used to gently keep your mouth open during the procedure. Your caregiver will carefully check the areas where he needs to remove tissue. He will use a laser to cut away parts of your soft palate and uvula.

After your procedure:

You may be taken to a recovery area after the LAUP. Caregivers will watch you closely for problems. Do not try to get up and leave until your caregiver says it is OK. When caregivers see that you are OK, you will be allowed to go home.

Contact a caregiver if

  • You cannot make it to your procedure on time.

  • You get sick (a cold or flu), or have a fever.

Seek Care Immediately if

  • You have trouble breathing or chest pain all of a sudden.

  • You have trouble thinking and remembering things.

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The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.