What is Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP)?
Laser-Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty (LAUP) is a series of procedures and office visits where the doctor reshapes the uvula in order to stop loud and habitual snoring. The uvula is a soft fleshy tissue that hangs across your tongue in the back of the mouth, and is considered part of your soft palate. When you swallow, the uvula creates a barrier in your nasal passage to guide your food down your throat.
Reasons the Uvula Becomes Inflamed and Causes Snoring
Prescription drugs can have side effects that can cause the uvula to become swollen. Inhaling both tobacco and marijuana smoke can also irritate the uvula as it passes down the air passageway. Dehydration, caused by excessive alcohol consumption, can also cause inflammation in the uvula. Any kind of inflammation in the throat, near the soft palate, or uvula, typically results in snoring as the air pathway is blocked. The vibrating of the soft tissues in the back of the mouth is what causes the loud sound of snoring.
The Uvulopalatoplasty Procedure
The LAUP procedure requires multiple visits to the doctor’s office, usually three to five times in order for snoring to be completely stopped. Each treatment will typically take 35 minutes. Part or all of the uvula will be removed from the back of your throat using a high-intensity laser. Patients remain awake during the LAUP and are given local anesthetic, and most people are not entirely sedated during the procedure.
The recovery time for an LAUP is very manageable. Most doctors will have you in for the procedure for roughly thirty minutes or so, followed by a post-op for 1-2 hours or sometimes less. Usually the patient will have a severe sore throat up to a week after their visit but once the uvula is completely removed, the discomfort should go away. Most patients are able to go back to work the day after the procedure if they take pain medications to control the sore throat discomfort.
Does the LAUP Stop Snoring?
The LAUP has been around since the late 80’s and is known for being the most invasive procedure for treating snoring and sleep apnea. However, the treatment may not provide a permanent solution as some people have experienced a relapse in their snoring shortly after their uvula has been removed. Having a consultation with your doctor is the best way to determine a course of treatment.