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Understanding Tongue Base Reduction Surgery

What is Tongue Base Reduction Surgery?

Who Needs Tongue Base Reduction Surgery?

How Does Tongue Base Reduction Surgery Work?

  1. Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA):
    • Procedure: A probe delivers radiofrequency energy to the tongue base, causing controlled damage and subsequent shrinkage of the tissue.
    • Recovery: Minimal downtime, with most patients resuming normal activities within a few days.
  2. Laser-Assisted Reduction:
    • Procedure: A laser is used to precisely remove excess tissue from the tongue base.
    • Recovery: Similar to RFA, with quick recovery times and minimal discomfort.
  3. Coblation:
    • Procedure: This technique uses radiofrequency energy combined with saline to create a plasma field that gently removes tissue.
    • Recovery: Typically involves a short recovery period with less pain compared to traditional surgery.

Benefits of Tongue Base Reduction Surgery

  1. Improved Breathing: By reducing the obstruction at the tongue base, patients experience better airflow during sleep, leading to a reduction in apnea episodes.
  2. Enhanced Sleep Quality: With fewer interruptions in breathing, patients enjoy more restful and uninterrupted sleep.
  3. Decreased Daytime Sleepiness: Improved sleep quality translates to reduced daytime fatigue and better overall functioning.
  4. Better Cardiovascular Health: Effective treatment of sleep apnea can lower the risk of heart disease, hypertension, and stroke.

Risks and Considerations

  1. Pain and Discomfort: Mild to moderate pain and swelling are common post-surgery but can be managed with prescribed medications.
  2. Infection: There is a risk of infection at the surgical site, though this is rare and can be treated with antibiotics.
  3. Voice Changes: Some patients may experience temporary changes in their voice due to the proximity of the surgery to the vocal cords.
  4. Swallowing Difficulties: Swelling can cause temporary swallowing issues, which usually resolve within a few days to weeks.

Preparing for Tongue Base Reduction Surgery

  1. Medical Evaluation: Undergo a thorough evaluation by your ENT specialist to determine if you are a suitable candidate for the surgery.
  2. Lifestyle Adjustments: Your doctor may recommend quitting smoking and avoiding alcohol prior to the surgery to reduce the risk of complications.
  3. Medication Review: Inform your surgeon about any medications you are taking, as some may need to be paused or adjusted before surgery.
  4. Fasting: Follow any pre-surgery fasting instructions provided by your healthcare team.

What to Expect During the Procedure

  1. Anaesthesia: You will be given general anaesthesia to ensure you are asleep and pain-free during the procedure.
  2. Incision and Tissue Removal: The surgeon will make precise incisions and remove or shrink the excess tissue at the tongue base.
  3. Closure and Recovery: Once the procedure is complete, the surgical site is closed, and you will be monitored in a recovery room until the anaesthesia wears off.

Recovery and Aftercare

  1. Pain Management: Take prescribed pain relievers as directed to manage discomfort.
  2. Hydration and Diet: Stay hydrated and start with soft foods to ease swallowing. Gradually reintroduce solid foods as you heal.
  3. Follow-up Appointments: Attend all scheduled follow-up appointments to monitor your progress and address any concerns.
  4. Rest and Recovery: Allow yourself ample rest and avoid strenuous activities until cleared by your doctor.

Long-Term Outcomes

  1. Sustained Symptom Relief: Many patients report lasting relief from sleep apnea symptoms, leading to improved overall health and well-being.
  2. Enhanced Quality of Life: Better sleep quality translates to enhanced daily functioning, mood, and cognitive performance.
  3. Lowered Health Risks: Effective management of sleep apnea reduces the risk of associated health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes.


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