Sleep Apnea and Bariatric Surgery

Thousands of Americans struggle with sleep apnea. Some individuals might not even be aware of the problem. Obesity is one of the risk factors in the progression of Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA). If you qualify for bariatric surgery, there’s nearly 80% chance you have some form of sleep apnea.

Bariatric surgery is a major procedure that can provide significant weight loss and improve many obesity-related conditions, but also requires life-long changes. This treatment is not only reserved for adults. Bariatric surgery has become a popular method for children and adolescents combating childhood obesity. 

This article will cover the causes and prospective treatments for sleep apnea. We will also discuss the various types of bariatric surgery that may improve OSA. 

What This Article Covers:

Sleep Apnea Explained

Sleep apnea occurs in all demographics, but is closely associated with obesity. Between 5 and 10 percent of adults in the US suffer from OSA and that number increases for the bariatric population.

Sleep apnea is described as episodes of cessation or decreased airflow during sleep. The muscles that protect the airway relax during sleep and the soft tissues that make up the tongue and throat can increase in thickness. This causes the airway to narrow and decreases breathing capacity.

This altered breathing pattern results in inadequate sleep. A common symptom of OSA is snoring. Obstructed airways make breathing difficult and result in harsh sounds as air escapes the mouth. There are multiple symptoms of sleep apnea that people are unaware of, which means that many cases go undiagnosed.

Other common signs that you may be suffering from sleep apnea are:

  • Waking up gasping for air
  • Dry throat
  • Increased anxiety
  • Restless sleep
  • Chronic fatigue

Sleep apnea is diagnosed through nocturnal polysomnography or home sleep tests.

Treating Sleep Apnea

Once an instance of OSA has been diagnosed, there are several options in terms of treatment. Your doctor may recommend non-surgical bariatric weight lossother lifestyle changes (quitting smoking, regular exercise, etc.), and/or CPAP therapy in some mild to moderate cases.

More severe cases of sleep apnea may be treatable through oral surgeries, nerve stimulation or significant weight loss as a result of bariatric surgery. With restriction, malabsorption or a combination of both, bariatric surgery will result in weight loss.

Significant weight loss reduces the fatty tissue around the upper airway allowing for reduced symptoms and easier sleep. This is one of many benefits of bariatric surgery for people who suffer from OSA.

Bariatric Surgeries to Treat Sleep Apnea

Bariatric Surgeries to Treat Sleep Apnea

There are various bariatric surgery procedures. The most common is Roux-en-Y surgery where a small stomach pouch is created and then reconnected to the small intestine.

Other types of surgery include sleeve gastrectomy or BPD/DS diversion. Each of these procedures come with their own risks and benefits. Bariatric surgery is an invasive procedure that usually requires general anesthesia. You should consult with your healthcare provider about options before committing to a decision.

Hospital Checklist

If you have sleep apnea and the decision has been made to undergo bariatric surgery, you should make a bariatric surgery hospital checklist. Your CPAP 

machine or other similar devices should be included in your checklist. Weight loss surgery is a unique operation that requires special attention. 

    Post-Bariatric Surgery

    Bariatric surgery has been deemed one of the most effective treatments of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Weight loss surgery has resulted in 80% to 85% remission rate in most cases. 

    A successful weight loss journey is possible with adherence to lifestyle change, bariatric specific multivitamins and corrective supplements, family and friends support, etc. Bariatric surgery comes with many benefits including significant weight loss, increased quality of life, and decrease or resolution of obesity-related conditions.

    Surgery is a decision that requires much thought, the help of healthcare providers, support from family/friends, and a good deal of research. 

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    **This blog is for information and education purposes only. This information is not intended to substitute professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Please consult with your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions in regards to a medical condition.