Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) Surgery: A Comprehensive Guide to Treat OSA and Stop Snoring

Last updated: September 13th, 2023

What is MMA Surgery and Does it Help Stop Snoring?

Maxillomandibular Advancement (MMA) surgery is a type of jaw surgery or orthognathic surgery that is used to treat a number of conditions, most notably obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). When OSA occurs, the pharynx collapses in the back of the throat which blocks the airway, emerging as snoring and interrupted breathing. MMA surgery works by enlarging or advancing the pharynx and the jaw so that an uninterrupted airway exists. MMA has a success rate of anywhere from 90-95%, making it an effective solution for those suffering from OSA.

The Pharynx

The pharynx is the area of the throat situated just above the larynx and esophagus, and behind the nasal cavity and mouth. It has three primary functions: providing vocalization, filtering air into the lungs and being part of the digestive system; however, when the pharynx is obstructed, vibrations pass the flappy tissues in your throat which is what we know of as snoring. Snoring and OSA are therefore closely connected.

The Jaw

The human jaw is a collection of bones that form the functional mouth. It helps in chewing and breaking down food in order to swallow which is vitally important in the digestive system. Additionally, the jaw heavily influences the flow of air down to the pharynx. Patients who have an overbite or an underbite can experience air restriction which leads to sleep apnea and snoring. Jaw surgery is more popular for children, so that an overbite or underbite can be avoided long-term. However, it is available to older patients as a treatment for OSA and snoring.

Who Should Undergo MMA Surgery?

MMA surgery is intended for patients under 50 with OSA who have previously been unsuccessful in treating it using a CPAP machine. The CPAP machine may be ineffective for a number of reasons, such as falling off during sleep, being too loud to tolerate, mistaken obstruction in the nasal passage or simply being too uncomfortable. Before MMA surgery, it is typically recommended for the patient to have a polysomnogram test conducted in a sleep laboratory. The test will measure changes in breathing and sleep patterns, allowing the doctor to properly form a treatment plan.

What Happens During Surgery?

A small amount of anesthesia is given through an intravenous line to put the patient to sleep. An intubation tube is inserted in the trachea which is connected to a ventilator which supplies oxygen to the patient during the surgery. Anesthesia is given to reduce discomfort. During the surgery, the surgeon will make several small 3 millimeter incisions in the jaw, and then move the lower jaw slightly forward. The jaw is then secured with titanium plates and screws. The mandibular bone may also be removed and muscles and soft tissues of the throat repositioned. Recovery from MMA surgery is pretty extensive, with a stay in the hospital lasting from 3-5 days. Swelling, pain and difficulty speaking are normal side effects after the procedure. Soft foods are advised until the patient is fully healed and pain free.

Can MMA Surgery Stop Someone from Snoring?

Yes, MMA surgery is very effective at stopping someone from snoring. Enlarging the pharynx means that the airway is able to handle the passing air easier and therefore no obstruction occurs. MMA Surgery is not the only treatment for snoring, so it is important to consult with a doctor to find out if it is the most effective treatment for you.


MMA Surgery is an effective procedure for curing sleep apnea and snoring. Due to the size of the surgery and length of recovery, it is essential for patients to speak with a specialist prior to undergoing the procedure to ensure that it is the best treatment. Most patients have reported feeling much better after the MMA Surgery compared to prior to it, with a significant reduction in snoring.

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