Have You Ever Seen Sleep Apnea Improved or Even Cured After Neck Liposuction?

I am only 15 - 20 lbs. overweight and have been diagnosed as having sleep apnea pretty much all my life. I am a 41 year old woman. Told I am in the minority of sleep apnea sufferers and that my apnea is severe. Three pulmonologists have told me that they cannot tell me why I have it and that surgery is not an option. Neck has always been thick, even at 120 lbs. Want lipo on neck anyway, just wondering if it might help apnea. Any input would be appreciated...

Doctor Answers 11

Sleep Apnea

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Neck liposuction will not improve sleep apnea.  Sleep apnea occurs due to mechanical obstruction in the glottic and sub glottic areas and not from external subcutaneous or preplatysmal neck fat.

Dallas Plastic Surgeon
4.7 out of 5 stars 56 reviews

Liposuction and Sleep Apnea

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Liposuction or Kybella are potential treatments for a fatty neck with associated sleep apnea.

They both could help minimally or slightly by removing some of the weight pushing the tissues closed during sleep.  

You would look better and for safety any liposuction for should be performed under local anesthesia.  SmartLipo will help tighten the skin, but not the neck tissues.

Neck liposuction and sleep apnea

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Snoring and sleep apnea are part of a spectrum of syndromes called sleep disordered breathing. This syndrome is comprised of snoring, upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA is a syndrome not a disease and the specific etiology is unknown. However, it is largely secondary to anatomic upper airway narrowing during sleep and a yet unidentified central nervous system (CNS) component. Dr. RL Goode performed a study evaluating liposuction in patients with OSA. Liposuction is not a treatment for sleep apnea. However, there are numerous surgeries that can help improve OSA. 

Jose E. Barrera, MD, FACS
San Antonio Facial Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 57 reviews

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Sleep apnea is not expected to improve after neck liposuction

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In sleep apnea, there may be an obstruction in the air passageway between the nose and the area below the throat, not in the fatty tissues above the muscle and underneath the skin of the neck.  Therefore, reduction of the fat volume in the neck should not contribute to easier air movement and the sleep apnea should not improve.

Ronald Shelton, MD
Manhattan Dermatologic Surgeon
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Liposuction - Correction of Sleep Apnea?

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Hi teachfish70 in Cape Coral, FL,

I am unaware of liposuction ever having had an effect on sleep apnea.  The amount and distribution of the fat to be removed would not, in my opinion, be a significant contributing factor for sleep apnea (though I am not an expert in that particular diagnosis).  During your procedure you would need either general anesthesia or careful control of the airway if sedation is being used (though both are indicated for all patients!) and I would probably advise having an anesthesiologist present for the procedure, even if you choose to have it under local anesthesia alone.

In short, I do not know of a correlation between sleep apnea and liposuction of the chin/submental region.

I hope that this helps, and good luck,

Dr. E

Sleep apnea and neck lipo

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To my knowledge I do not have a case of sleep aopnea that was cured or improved with liposuction.

Robert Brueck, MD
Fort Myers Plastic Surgeon
4.9 out of 5 stars 69 reviews

Neck fat, liposuction, and sleep apnea

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I happen to have sleep apnea as well and therefore I'm more knowledgeable about it than the average plastic surgeon. Unfortunately, liposuction of subcutaneous fat in the neck will not help but should not be a problem to do even with sleep apnea as it can be done with local anesthesia. 

The problem in sleep apnea is identifying the cause and seeing if it's treatable. Most sleep apnea is caused by mechanical obstruction of the airway somewhere in the oropharynx (back of the nose/mouth to the windpipe) that closes off because of position or relaxation of muscles during sleep. There is also apparently a type that is caused by central brain function which is not currently treatable. Weight is not the problem and liposuction doesn't address weight anyway. Prolonged sleep apnea apparently results in increased cardiac risk so I would recommend continuing to look for causes and possible treatments and treating it by external breathing assist methods.

Scott L. Replogle, MD
Boulder Plastic Surgeon

Neck fat and sleep apnea

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There is absolutely no correlation between neck fat and sleep apnea.  You need to have a sleep study and full exam by a ENT surgeon which will determine the source of your sleep apnea.  It may be due to pathology in your soft palate or tonsils, or obesite or a combination of all three.  A full evaluation is needed prior to diagnosis and treatments that are recommended.

Ernesto Hayn, MD
West Palm Beach Plastic Surgeon

Neck Liposuction Should Not Improve Sleep Apnea

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Sleep apnea has many anatomic causes but excess fat in the neck has never been shown to be one of them. The only relationship between neck fat and an obstructed upper airway is proximity. On the other hand, there is no negative effect of neck liposuction on sleep apnea so it would be interesting to see if there was any improvement...as remote as that chance would seem to be.


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There is no relationship between sleep apnea and the reduction of fat in the neck by liposuction.  Sleep apnea is a disorder characterized by abnormal pauses in breathing or instances of abnormally low breathing, during sleep.  Excess fat in the neck is not a contributory cause of sleep apnea.

Todd B. Koch, MD
Buffalo Plastic Surgeon
4.6 out of 5 stars 37 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.