Overall Success Rates Are Low
First, it’s important to understand that the overall success rate for this procedure is generally low. There are many studies out about the effectiveness of the procedure, but you have to look at their results carefully.
This 2009 study published in the Mayo Clinic Proceedings illustrates the point nicely. It looks at the surgery results for 63 patients who had UPPP for sleep apnea. Defining surgical success as a 50% reduction in sleep apnea incidents and/or reducing apnea/hypopnea index (AHI) to 20 or less means the success rate is 51%. If you have been researching sleep apnea, you realize that this leaves a person with relatively significant sleep apnea–at least moderate sleep apnea that still needs treatment.
If you define success as curing sleep apnea so a person doesn’t need treatment, then the success rate is only 24%, or less than one in four.
However, initial surgical success does not guarantee long-term success. For many people, the effectiveness of surgery for sleep apnea and snoring declines over time. About a quarter of patients who see initial success might see symptoms return after several months.
When deciding to get this surgery, you have to balance the true possibility of success against the expense, recovery, and risks associated with surgery.