Post-surgery

WEIGHT LOSS MANAGEMENT

Sleep Apnoea and Weight Loss Surgery

BY Dr Ian Baxter

Upper Gastrointestinal and Metabolic Surgeon

sleep apnea

Do you suffer from Sleep Apnoea? 
Did you know that obesity is one of the biggest contributors to causing sleep apnoea? 
Find out what the connection between obesity and sleep apnoea is and how weight loss surgery can help.

Sleep Apnoea and Weight Loss Surgery

Studies have shown that bariatric surgery is an effective tool for treating obesity and for preventing, treating and even resolving sleep apnoea.  Obesity is one of the most important factors for causing sleep apnoea.  The theory is that the sleep apnoea was brought about by periodic collapsing of the soft tissues of the throat during sleep and this can lead to cessation of breathing otherwise known as sleep apnoea.  Obviously a thicker throat or swelling around that area can increase your chances of sleep apnoea and weight loss can greatly alleviate swelling and fat around the upper airways and as such can be a very effective treatment for sleep apnoea.  About 85% of people who have sleep apnoea are obese.

Obstructive Sleep Apnoea 

How does being overweight cause sleep apnoea?

Obese people have a large amount of fatty tissue around the throat or upper airways and when they go to sleep the muscles of the body, and that includes the muscles around the throat, reflux and the surrounding weight of the soft tissue can partially or even completely block or collapse the upper airways.  After surgery, particularly initially, there is swelling around this area that can be greatly alleviated and also with consistent and effective weight loss the fat around the airways can be decreased.  As air flow is proportional to the radius to the power of four, even losing a few millimetres can make a considerable difference.  Studies have shown that approximately 80% of sleep apnoea can be resolved or improved with weight loss.

The treatment for sleep apnoea is a CPAP machine, putting a positive pressure to keep the airways open.  The alternative of course is to consider weight loss surgery to decrease the fat and swelling in the soft tissues to keep the airways open.  Of course this will need to be carefully discussed with your specialist but it certainly a disorder that is very closely linked with being overweight.