Is Sleep Apnea Cured after Weight Loss Surgery?

Jeremy Korman';

By Jeremy Korman

Posted on March 9th, 2012 in Weight Loss

Obesity can cause or aggravate many medical conditions. High blood pressure, diabetes, and orthopedic problems are among the best-known. Another potentially serious condition associated with obesity may be alleviated with surgery: sleep apnea.

Sleep apnea is when a sleeping person has abnormal pauses in breathing or breathes very shallowly. The most common cause is when the soft tissue in the throat collapses when the muscles relax during sleep.

This obstructs the airway, making it more difficult for the person to breathe, and can also cause snoring. Obesity is one factor that often contributes to obstructive sleep apnea.

Treatments for Sleep Apnea Can Vary

Many patients are issued masks to wear during sleep; these are connected to an air pump that gently circulates air into the patient's airway, ensures the throat stays open, and breathing can proceed normally. Other treatments include medication and alternative methods. Surgery on the throat can also be performed.

If a patient who has sleep apnea is also obese, it is highly recommended that they lose weight. While obesity does not necessarily cause sleep apnea, like many disorders associated with obesity, including:

  • high blood pressure
  • heart disease
  • stroke
  • diabetes

Sleep apnea can be improved with weight loss. In a 2004 study from the Journal of the American Medical Association, a team of researchers found that 80.4% of gastric bypass patients and 94.6% of lap-band patients experienced resolution of sleep apnea after surgery. A recent review of gastric sleeve surgery found that 60% had their sleep apnea resolved [1]. Patients should not expect a “cure” for sleep apnea after weight loss surgery. Still, many people see the symptoms of this potentially serious condition get significantly better regardless of which procedure they undergo.

Find Out More

If you are concerned that you might have sleep apnea, it may be a good idea to go for a "sleep study," in which practitioners monitor your sleep to see whether your breathing is adequate. If you would like to discuss the links between obesity and sleep apnea, we'd love to help you find a solution and sleep soundly at night.

[1] Brethauer SA, Hammel JP, Schauer PR. A systematic review of sleeve gastrectomy as staging and primary bariatric procedure. Surg Obes Relat Dis. 2009;5:469-475