Sleep Apnea


Obstructive sleep apnea is a potentially serious sleep disorder that takes place when the muscles in the back of the throat relax, causing the airways to narrow and lowering oxygen levels in the blood. As the brain senses a disruption in breathing, it signals the body to awaken very briefly, and may trigger a choking, gasping or snorting sound. This pattern may repeat 5-30 times each hour during the night, which can be extremely disruptive and can prevent patients from reaching the optimally restful phases of sleep.

Although individuals who suffer from obstructive sleep apnea are typically unaware that their sleep cycle has been disrupted, this condition may lead to hypersomnia (excessive daytime sleepiness) and other complications, including:

  • High blood pressure
  • Cardiovascular problems
  • Complications with medications and surgery
  • Liver problems
  • Loud snoring
  • Awakening with a dry mouth, headache or sore throat
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Attention or mood problems linked to sleep deprivation

There are a number of factors that put patients at a heightened risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea, such as: being overweight, having a thick neck circumference, nasal congestion, having a narrowed airway, genetic predisposition, smoking, alcohol consumption, age, and gender (men are twice as likely to have sleep apnea).

Depending on the cause of your sleep apnea, you may be able to treat the condition by making lifestyle changes or utilizing non-invasive treatment measures (i.e. dental mouthpieces or continuous positive airway pressure “CPAP”). However, if you suffer from severe sleep apnea, or have not experienced symptom relief from less invasive treatment options, a more intensive surgical approach may be required. At The Virginia Institute for Surgical Arts, located in Chantilly, Virginia, Dr. Trang Vo-Nguyen (Dr. V) is pleased to offer a number of surgical treatment options aimed at resolving the anatomical or structural abnormalities responsible for causing sleep apnea:

  • Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): this surgical technique is performed under general anesthesia and involves the trimming and tightening of excess tissues from the throat region in order to expand the airways and minimize vibration.
  • Radiofrequency Tissue Ablation (Somnoplasty): this outpatient procedure is performed with a local anesthetic and the use of a low-intensity radiofrequency signal, and is generally less painful and less invasive than many of the alternatives. During treatment, the radiofrequency energy causes the tissue in the soft palate to contract, which helps to expand the airways. This procedure is best suited for patients with mild cases of sleep apnea, who have not benefited from dental mouthpieces and are unable to tolerate treatment with continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).
  • Maxillomandibular Advancement (Jaw Repositioning): during this procedure, the jaw is moved forward in order to expand the space behind the tongue and soft palate, minimizing the risk of obstruction.
  • Palatal Implants (“the pillar procedure”): for this technique, braided strands of polyester filament are injected into the soft palate to stiffen it, thereby reducing the potential for vibration in the airways. This treatment option is best suited for patients with mild sleep apnea who cannot tolerate CPAP.
  • Tracheostomy: a more invasive surgical option, tracheostomy is appropriate for patients with severe or life-threatening sleep apnea, and involves the creation of a new air passageway with the insertion of a metal or plastic tube, which the patient will use to breathe at night in order to bypass the blocked air passage in the throat.
  • Nasal Surgery: performed when sleep apnea is caused by malfunctioning or defective nasal structures, as with cases of nasal polyps or a deviated nasal septum (crooked partition between the nostrils).


In order to ensure that you receive optimally effective treatment for your sleep apnea, it is crucial that you select a physician with in-depth knowledge of facial anatomy and the delicate nasal structures, such as Dr. Trang Thuy Vo-Nguyen (Dr. V). Dr. V has the background, experience, and clinical skill-set to create customized treatment plans that are designed to safely and effectively address the nasal issues that are responsible for your sleep apnea.

Dr. V is double board certified in the field of Facial Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, and through her extensive training, experience, and achievements, she has built a reputation as one of the leading facial plastic surgeons in the nation.  If you are interested in learning more about the various treatment options to resolve your sleep apnea, please contact The Virginia Institute for Surgical Arts today. We look forward to speaking with you, and to scheduling your initial consultation with Dr. V.

Please call 703-327-8200 or Click Here to Schedule a Consultation.


Contact Us Virginia Institute for Surgical Arts

South Riding Professional Square
25055 Riding Plaza, Suite #140
Chantilly, VA 20152
TEL: 703.327.8200
5530 Wisconsin Avenue
Suite #1640
Chevy Chase, MD 20815
TEL: 301.882.5075