CAN JAW SURGERY INCREASE THE RISK OF OBSTRUCTIVE SLEEP APNEA (OSA)?

If you have a growth abnormality with your jaws such as a protrusive lower jaw, and you have breathing concerns, studies have shown that having the jaw surgery could increase your risk of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). (J Oral Maxillofac Surg 78:2061-2069, 2020). This concern and this question would mainly bring up issues if we had a patient with a high BMI, but could be a concern for any patient if other breathing issues are not addressed in the evaluation.

Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons are expert in evaluating these concerns and relationships. Often, it is self-evident, such as if a patient already has breathing issues or risk factors for breathing problems such as a short, wide neck and/or excess pharyngeal (throat) tissues. For my patients, I will recommend that excess tissues such as with excess tonsillar tissue or excess throat tissue be addressed with tonsillectomy and palatopharyngoplasty as part of the overall plan. We also tend to recommend a combined maxillomandibular surgery for these patients as correcting cant (or angle) and width along with nasal turbinectomies can significantly improve nasal and pharyngeal airways and breathing problems.

All of these factors, along with many others, are addressed in evaluation and workup for orthognathic surgery and would be considered in establishing a “best” surgical plan. The cited article did not suggest that these issues were treated preemptively for the studied patients. If you are concerned about these issues in your surgical planning, first make sure that you are getting your information from a properly trained source such as a board certified OMS and secondly, ask questions. These procedures have been time tested and when planned properly and performed by experts can have great results.