Q: I have sleep apnea and a very thick fat neck. I was wondering if liposuction of the neck would help my sleep apnea? My thought is that if the fat was removed from my neck it would not be so heavy when I laid down. That way it would not push down on my neck and obstruct my throat as much when I was sleeping/ Does this make any sense? What are your thoughts?
A: While liposuction of the neck may help improve the shape and profile of it, I doubt very highly if it would make any improvement in your sleep apnea. Your logic seemingly makes sense but the flaws in it are that fat doesn’t weigh very much, the thyroid cartilage protects the voice box and lower area with a stout shield of protecive armour and the usual sites of anatomic obstruction are usually higher and are closer to the base of the tongue. While I don’t think liposuction of the neck will have any negative effects, it is not an acknowledged procedure in the surgical treatment of sleep apnea. Procedures such as septorhinoplasty and turbinate reductions to open the nasal airway, maxillary and mandibular advancements to open up the entire posterior oropharyngeal airway, shortening of the soft palate (fading in popularity) and bony chin advancement and genioglossus procedures to bring the base of the tongue forward are well recognized sleep apnea operations. Other non-surgical efforts include weight loss and various dental appliances. Before considering any of these options, one should be fully worked up by a sleep apnea specialist to search for the most effective solution.
Dr. Barry Eppley