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Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (Inpatient Care) Care Guide

  • Laser-assisted uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, also called LA-UPPP, is a surgery that uses a laser to remove tissues in your throat. LA-UPPP is done to treat snoring and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a condition where you suddenly stop breathing, many different times, while you are sleeping. In OSA, tissues in your mouth such as your soft palate, tongue, and uvula block your throat. Very little or no air and oxygen may pass through, and loud snoring may be heard. When your body does not have enough air, you may gasp and wake often to catch your breath. You may feel very sleepy when you wake up the next day. Ask your caregiver for more information about snoring and OSA.

  • During LA-UPPP, a laser (a very powerful beam of light) is used to remove tissues inside your mouth. These tissues may include the soft palate, uvula, and parts of your pharynx. Your soft palate is the back part of the roof of your mouth. The uvula is the small piece of flesh that hangs at the back of your throat. The pharynx, also called the throat, is the tube inside the neck that starts behind the nose. The pharynx ends at the top of the trachea (windpipe) and esophagus (the tube that goes to the stomach). A tonsillectomy (removal of your tonsils) may also be done if your tonsils are large. LA-UPPP may help you breathe easier, decrease snoring, and improve your sleep.


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 response to the medicines used during or after your surgery. You may lose your ability to taste and your voice may change for a period of time. Your throat may feel dry and you may have trouble swallowing. It may feel like there is a lump in your throat when you swallow foods or liquids. The laser may scar the inside of your throat, and cause it to narrow. Antibiotic medicines increase your risk of having an oral (mouth) fungal infection (germs), such as candida. With candida infections, white patches will appear on your tongue and on the insides of your mouth. Treatment may cause your blood pressure to increase, chest pain, and your heart may beat irregularly (arrhythmia).

  • Your sleeping problems or snoring may not disappear right after surgery. You may need another LA-UPPP before your symptoms decrease or completely go away. If you do not have surgery, your sleeping and snoring problems will continue and may worsen. You will continue to have daytime sleepiness and you may have trouble doing your normal daily activities. You may have chest pain, tire easily, and have trouble breathing. If your OSA is untreated, you may have heart and lung problems, or a stroke. Ask your caregiver if you have questions or concerns about your surgery, treatment, or care.


Before your surgery:

  • Informed consent is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

  • An IV is a small tube placed in your vein that is used to give you medicine or liquids.

  • Medicines: You may have any or all of the following medicines:

    • General anesthesia will keep you asleep and free from pain during surgery. Anesthesia may be given through your IV. You may instead breathe it in through a mask or a tube placed down your throat. The tube may cause you to have a sore throat when you wake up.

    • Local anesthesia: This is anesthesia medicine that is given as a shot inside your mouth. This will help numb the area where your surgery will be done.

    • Topical anesthesia: This medicine may be sprayed inside your mouth to help decrease pain during your surgery.

    • Sedative: This medicine is given to help you stay calm and relaxed.

  • Monitoring: This helps your caregiver check how your body is doing during the surgery.

    • Blood pressure: To take your blood pressure, a cuff is placed around your arm and filled with air. The cuff is attached to a machine that gives your blood pressure reading.

    • Heart monitor: This is also called an ECG or EKG. Sticky pads placed on your skin record your heart's electrical activity.

    • Pulse oximeter: A pulse oximeter is a device that measures the amount of oxygen in your blood. A cord with a clip or sticky strip is placed on your finger, ear, or toe. The other end of the cord is hooked to a machine. Never turn the pulse oximeter or alarm off. An alarm will sound if your oxygen level is low or cannot be read.

During your surgery:

Using a clamp, your caregiver will carefully move your uvula to one side. He will then use a laser to remove the tissues that are blocking your throat. He may remove your whole uvula or a part of it. He may remove your soft palate, and some tissues in your pharynx. If your tonsils are large, they may also be removed. Your caregiver will watch for problems such as bleeding. He may need to place sutures inside your mouth to stop any bleeding.

After your surgery:

You may be taken to a recovery room after your surgery. Do not try to get out of bed until your caregiver says it is OK. Caregivers will watch you closely for problems. Caregivers will check for any bleeding inside your mouth and throat. You may not be able to eat or speak for a few hours after your surgery. Caregivers will check how well you can swallow food or liquids when you are ready. Caregivers will also check how well you are breathing, and if you have enough oxygen in your blood. Once you are doing well and have no problems that need care, you may be able to go home.

  • Diet and activity: Caregivers may start you on a soft diet after surgery until you heal. When your caregivers see that you are OK, you may be able to return to your usual activities.

  • Oxygen: You may need extra oxygen if your blood oxygen level is lower than it should be. You may get oxygen through a mask placed over your nose and mouth or through small tubes placed in your nostrils. Ask your caregiver before you take off the mask or oxygen tubing.

  • Medicines:

    • Antibiotics: This medicine is given to help treat or prevent an infection caused by bacteria.

    • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

    • Steroids: This medicine may be given to decrease inflammation.

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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.