Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP): What to Expect at Home

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Your Recovery

Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) is surgery to cut away soft tissue in the back of the throat. The doctor took out the uvula, which is the small piece of skin that hangs down at the back of the throat. The doctor also may have taken out the tonsils and part of the soft palate. The soft palate is the back section of the roof of your mouth.

Your throat may be sore for two weeks or longer. You may need to wear a breathing mask (CPAP) to help keep your airway open. You may have trouble swallowing, and you may have a mild earache. You may feel like there is something stuck in your throat. You may notice blood in your spit. These symptoms may last for 7 to 10 days.

Your jaws may be sore, and your lips may be chapped. Your doctor may give you a spray to numb your throat instead of pain pills. This is because some pain pills relax the throat muscles. This can cause your airway to narrow.

You will probably be able to go back to work or to most of your usual activities 1 to 2 weeks after surgery. But you may need up to 3 to 6 weeks to fully recover.

Over the next 3 to 6 weeks, you should start to have better airflow. You may find that you snore less or not at all.

This care sheet gives you a general idea about how long it will take for you to recover. But each person recovers at a different pace. Follow the steps below to get better as quickly as possible.

How can you care for yourself at home?

Activity

  • Rest when you feel tired. Getting enough sleep will help you recover. Do not lie flat. Sleep with your head up by using 3 or 4 pillows. You can also try to sleep with your head up in a reclining chair. This can reduce swelling in your throat.
  • Try to walk each day. Start by walking a little more than you did the day before. Bit by bit, increase the amount you walk. Walking boosts blood flow and helps prevent pneumonia and constipation.
  • You may shower or bathe as usual.
  • Avoid strenuous activities, such as bicycle riding, jogging, weight lifting, or aerobic exercise, for at least 1 week or until your doctor says it is okay.
  • Ask your doctor when you can drive again.
  • You will probably need to take 1 to 2 weeks off from work. It depends on the type of work you do and how you feel.

Diet

  • If it is painful to swallow, try eating soft foods like pudding, yogurt, canned or cooked fruit, scrambled eggs, and mashed potatoes. Avoid eating hard or scratchy foods like chips or raw vegetables. Avoid orange or tomato juice and other acidic foods that can sting the throat. You may want to avoid eating bananas until your throat is better. They can be painful to swallow.
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless your doctor tells you not to).
  • Avoid very hot or very cold foods and liquids.
  • You may notice that your bowel movements are not regular right after your surgery. This is common. Try to avoid constipation and straining with bowel movements. You may want to take a fibre supplement every day. If you have not had a bowel movement after a couple of days, ask your doctor about taking a mild laxative.

Medicines

  • Your doctor will tell you if and when you can restart your medicines. He or she will also give you instructions about taking any new medicines.
  • If you take blood thinners, such as warfarin (Coumadin), clopidogrel (Plavix), or aspirin, be sure to talk to your doctor. He or she will tell you if and when to start taking those medicines again. Make sure that you understand exactly what your doctor wants you to do.
  • Do not take aspirin, medicines that contain aspirin, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicines such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve) for 2 weeks after surgery unless your doctor says it is okay.
  • Take pain medicines exactly as directed.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
  • If you think your pain medicine is making you sick to your stomach:
    • Take your pain medicine after meals (unless your doctor has told you not to).
    • Ask your doctor for a different pain medicine.
  • If your doctor prescribed antibiotics, take them as directed. Do not stop taking them just because you feel better. You need to take the full course of antibiotics.

Incision care

  • You may have cuts (incisions) in your throat. The stitches will dissolve and do not need to be removed.

Ice and elevation

  • To help with swelling and pain, put ice or a cold pack on your throat for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Do not lie flat. Raise your head with three or four pillows. This can reduce swelling.

Other instructions

  • Use non-prescription anesthetic throat lozenges to soothe pain. Regular cough drops or hard candy may also help.
  • Try not to cough or sneeze. But if you must, open your mouth, and cough or sneeze gently.
  • Keep your mouth clean. Gargle with warm salt water one time each hour to help reduce swelling and relieve discomfort. Use 1 teaspoon of salt mixed in 1 cup of warm water.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse call line if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

When should you call for help?

Call 911 anytime you think you may need emergency care. For example, call if:

  • You passed out (lost consciousness).
  • You have severe trouble breathing.
  • You have sudden chest pain and shortness of breath, or you cough up blood.

Call your doctor or nurse call line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have pain that does not get better after you take pain medicine.
  • You have a fever over 38°C.
  • You have trouble swallowing.
  • You find it hard to breathe.
  • You taste blood in your mouth a few days after the surgery.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse call line if you have any problems.

Where can you learn more?

Go to http://www.healthwise.net/ed

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Current as of: May 23, 2016