Yesterday morning I received a uvulaplasty at the VA Medical Center in Washington DC. I've been kept overnight in the hospital so I figured while I'm laying here in pain that I'd do an AMA.

My Proof: http://i.imgur.com/fnMnf2W.jpg

Comments: 322 • Responses: 86  • Date: 

lethatis215 karma

why?

thelinestepper174 karma

I've had problems with my uvula in the past. It gets stretched out from time to time, sometimes so severely that I could clutch it between my teeth. A few times when it got that bad, I developed an ulcer on it, which turned into the most unbearable, long-lasting pain I could imagine. So it was recommended I have it removed.

I also have sleep apnea. The doctors said that in addition to my uvula, I had a rather large soft palate, and they said they could remove part of it as well, which could help my sleep apnea. So, in summary:

Shitty uvula Sleep apnea Big soft palate Removed uvula and part of soft palate

amperx11135 karma

Oh god, the image of having your uvula between your teeth...

thelinestepper66 karma

Yeah, it was like a cartoon or something.

gator-crater20 karma

Pics of this?

thelinestepper21 karma

Unfortunately no pics of the before.

PM_ELBOW_PICS27 karma

>unfortunately

thelinestepper16 karma

:(

free_bird_z8 karma

Did you used to get uvulitis? I get that shit from time to time and it sucks. It seems an evening of hard drinking usually precedes my uvulitis. I also got two extremely painful cases of tonsilitis a few years ago that resulted in hospitalization because I couldn't swallow. ENT doctor said I should consider a tonsillectomy, but I hear it's extremely painful in adults and has a long recovery time. Do you still have your tonsils?

thelinestepper5 karma

I believe I had uvulitis once about 11 or 12 years ago. I also had my tonsils out while I was young child, but they did tell me that with this procedure they would take out the tonsils if they were still there, and that it is apparently painful as shit. This already hurts enough, but I have good meds.

_Guinness25 karma

Did you snore before? Do you snore after? Do you sleep better now or do you still have apnea? What was it like having sleep apnea?

thelinestepper30 karma

I did snore before. I'm not sure about after, as I had the surgery about 24 hours ago.

Sleep apnea kind of sucks. You never get a full night's sleep.

anon700220 karma

I had mine removed 10 years ago, as part of a fix for snoring. I also had soft tissue removed from my palate and had my nasal cavities widened. I had the most colourful and cathartic bogies for two weeks afterwards.

It didn't work though and it was a horrendous amount of pain to go through. Nothing like smelling your own flesh being burned!

A few years later I was given a CPAP. I always recommend people go the CPAP route first if they're suffering from apnea and/or snoring. So much easier.

thelinestepper14 karma

I also had my nasal cavity cleared out back in July. One of the best things I ever did.

Ben3476 karma

[deleted]

thelinestepper5 karma

Sure. I had a deviated septum, and they straightened it, thinned it out, and shaved down my turbinates inside my nasal cavity and cleaned all that up.

kiwisurf5 karma

I have a deviated septum as well. My brother is going to have his surgery next week. I snore terribly and am pretty sure I have sleep apnea. I want to get it sorted out, but would like to hear from how your procedure went.

thelinestepper4 karma

Fixing my septum and nasal cavity was one of the best decisions I ever made. 10/10, would do again.

lethatis13 karma

Did you stretch it, or was it always like that?

thelinestepper29 karma

I guess it was always like that. I certainly didn't do anything on purpose to stretch it out.

broken_strings8 karma

Don't feel bad brother, I have an extra! On average, you and I, we're still normal people!

thelinestepper10 karma

Shit, that is actually fascinating. You should do an AMA.

keithps7 karma

[deleted]

thelinestepper5 karma

Yeah dude, I did the same thing. It was unbearable.

keithps5 karma

[deleted]

thelinestepper5 karma

Yeah. I can't impress upon people enough just how awful it was. And it stuck around for like 2 weeks.

maxillo6 karma

It is good that you did not get this surgery before thanksgiving.

I am glad you got a pesky uvula removed but don't expect a significant difference in obstructive sleep apnea symptoms.

What was your AHI? Uvulaplasty and soft palate surgery for obstructive sleep apnea is usually only good for reducing AHI about 10 - 15 points. Unfortunately I become aware of this post -op.

I know because I had uvulaplasty, septoplasty, turbinate reduction, tonsilectomy , anoidectomy and base of tongue radio ablation to treat sleep apnea.

It reduced my AHI 12 points -

I then had maximal mandibular advancement (Cutting upper and lower jawbones off and moving them forward then bolting them back together) which actually cured my sleep apnea. I just went to the surgeon yesterday for 1 year post op appointment, and the stuck a camera through my nose and done my throat to check the airway. The surgeon showed me where the soft palate surgery actually negatively impacts the airway.

thelinestepper6 karma

I'm not sure what my AHI is off the top of my head, but they're going to give me another sleep study in a few months to see if it helped. I've now, at some point in my life, had the first five of your seven total procedures.

Shit, how awful was the jaw thing?

maxillo4 karma

The jaw thing is better than what you just had. It hurt less. Recovery was longer - jaw wired shut for a month. so you defiantly can loose weight if you stay away from to many milkshakes.

thelinestepper3 karma

Hmmmm, not a bad reason to have surgery. Fix sleep apnea and drop 20 pounds!

maxillo2 karma

40 lbs in 1 month and have kept it off for more than a year!

thelinestepper2 karma

Good work!

shtaaap4 karma

as someone who constantly develops mouth ulcers i can only imaging how sore an ulcer on you uvula must be! yikes..

thelinestepper6 karma

It was excruciating, no lie.

Asyx3 karma

Do you have problems with speech? Like, could you produce a French R or pronounce "loch" the proper Scottish way?

thelinestepper3 karma

I just had surgery yesterday so I'll have to let you know in a few months.

OpticLemon121 karma

Have any of the people you've talked to about this procedure confused uvula and vulva and been very confused?

thelinestepper95 karma

A few people have, actually. "Wait, uvula? Ohhhhhh.....UVULA."

GunnieGraves9 karma

Mulva?

thelinestepper3 karma

This post is waaaaaaay underrated.

GreenStrong33 karma

Did it hurt? Was it expensive? I have a rather long uvula, although I certainly can't clench it in my teeth.

An acquaintance of mine had his uvula removed, he said it was fairly painless, but I'm not sure the procedure he had was the complete one. He was a medical corpsman in the Navy, while at sea the entire medical staff removed each other's uvulas out of boredom. Naturally, drugs were necessary during the procedure and recovery...

thelinestepper35 karma

I was under general anesthesia for the surgery, so the procedure itself didn't hurt, but I'm in a fair bit of pain now. Just lying here it feels like a very sore throat. When swallowing it feels like I'm trying to swallow nails or glass shards.

I have full health coverage at the VA due to being an Iraq vet (5 years of coverage) plus my disability rating, so it's absolutely free.

I don't think the uvula itself is that bad, but removing part of the soft palate makes it worse. Also, the doctor informed me that they would usually remove the tonsils with this surgery, but luckily I had mine out as a child, because when added in it supposedly makes the recovery just unbearable for about two whole weeks.

Glaserdj10 karma

It leaves a very, very sore throat for about two to three weeks. I didn't want to take the two Vicodin that were prescribed and only took one. It didn't help. Definitely recommend taking the full prescribed dose.

I found that ibuprofen helped better but my doctor was very unhappy when he found out I took that due to the blood thinning properties.

thelinestepper7 karma

Overall, it's not quite as bad as I was prepared for. Definitely not as bad as /u/mute1 described.

Cassowaree22 karma

Thanks for your service!:)

thelinestepper1 karma

Thank YOU!

bg-j3823 karma

Sorry .. 7 hours and I seem to be the first person commenting on they removed each others uvulas???? Seriously? "Hey Ralph, I'm bored, open up." "OK Sam but only if you do the same for me."

thelinestepper15 karma

Man, people do some weird shit on deployment. Once watched a guy eat a dead lizard in Iraq for $48.

Spikekuji4 karma

How dead? Like freshly dead, or 5 days and festering dead?

thelinestepper5 karma

Not festering, but definitely dead.

Spikekuji5 karma

Dry aged and cured, then?

thelinestepper7 karma

Oh yeah, lizard jerky.

18andover29 karma

[deleted]

thelinestepper37 karma

I don't think they're sure what its purpose is. It does affect some speech patterns, but my understanding is that it most affects French speakers. As an English speaker, the uvulaplasty shouldn't affect me too much, but the partial removal of my soft palate does have the potential to make my voice more nasally. However, I called my grandmother after the surgery and she said I sounded pretty much normal, so that's good, as I actually have a pretty good voice.

Cunt_zapper22 karma

As /u/levb1 mentioned, you might have problems with choking on food and drink if if you are not careful or don't learn to swallow differently. My dad had a similar surgery about 10 years ago and he finds himself coughing and choking on things much more often than before. Maybe consider seeing a speech pathologist/therapist that has experience with swallowing therapy (har har, I know...) if you find this to be an issue. Good luck and get well!

thelinestepper11 karma

Thanks for the heads up!

imminent_riot13 karma

It can also have an effect on your sinuses, so watch out for that!

thelinestepper6 karma

Negative effects?

imminent_riot8 karma

Yes, I have a ton of drainage. It's not unbearable but it is worst in the morning because I've been laying down and it has all gone down my throat.

thelinestepper3 karma

Hopefully I'll have better luck.

imminent_riot4 karma

If you ever have any of those problems you can message me sometime and I'll tell you if that is something I've had too!

thelinestepper3 karma

Awesome, thanks a lot!

nontheistzero7 karma

It took about 3 weeks for me to talk comfortably again after my UPPP. Everyone told me I sounded the same but it seemed to me that it changed the pitch of my voice within my own head.

I used to be an avid singer. I don't have the same vocal range as I used to. It hurts to hit the higher notes now.

thelinestepper8 karma

Well, I'm not much of a singer, but I do have a fairly deep and smooth voice, so I'm hoping that it's not affected.

nontheistzero4 karma

My low end was unaffected. My palate was stiffened with a laser and I assume yours was as well?

thelinestepper4 karma

I'm actually not sure. I didn't really have many questions about the procedure, and they didn't specify whether they used a laser or some type of cutting tool like a scalpel.

justscottaustin0 karma

most affects French speakers

Does it make it harder or easier to surrender?? Reddit needs to know! Come on, OP!!

thelinestepper1 karma

I'm no cheese-eating surrender monkey!

BusyBeeBen13 karma

Dentist here. The uvula is used to help close off the opening to the nose from the throat side - the nasopharynx - during swallowing and chewing. It also helps with some phonation, mostly for some hard consonants, but there should be minimal speech pattern effect with a minor procedure like this. In cases of cleft lip and palate, hypernasal speech occurs because the uvula cannot contact the throat to create proper sound and prevent air escape through the nose. This is called velopharyngeal insufficiency.

In OP's case I'm betting the uvula was elongated from a long history of apnic events and possibly genetic predisposition.

Good luck on your recovery, OP!

thelinestepper6 karma

Thanks, Doc!

Lying_Obviously22 karma

Was it chewy? I imagine it being quite chewy.

thelinestepper29 karma

Sort of like a medium soft grape.

Im_at_home26 karma

Fun fact: "uvula" comes from the word Latin word for grape, "uva"

thelinestepper17 karma

Shit, that is a pretty fun fact.

OrdinaryWhiteGuy24 karma

Reading this made me cringe so hard

thelinestepper15 karma

Are you eating grapes?

4to615 karma

You do realize that you need that little hangy thing in the back of your throat to get into heaven? Doh!

thelinestepper18 karma

I think you have to believe in god, too, which rules me out.

desentizised6 karma

Guess you kind of have to leave that one at the door once you've served in a war.

thelinestepper9 karma

That's certainly part of it.

fubbleskag12 karma

Did you get any photos of the uvula pre-surgery? Or post? Did you keep it? Was it always this large or was it a gradual thing?

thelinestepper7 karma

Unfortunately, no. No pics pre or post. The doctor said she tossed it, but she did tell me my uvula was very long. I guess it was always larger than normal.

thelordofcheese11 karma

Can you deep throat?

thelinestepper13 karma

I have no idea. Besides, I just had the surgery yesterday.

thelordofcheese22 karma

That's not a no.

thelinestepper13 karma

Fair point.

TheGoldilocksZone7 karma

You seem to have had a few fairly extreme things going on with your uvula. Were they reluctant to do the surgery and did they point out any risks to you?

What will be different once you've healed up?

thelinestepper5 karma

They weren't reluctant at all. In fact, every doctor I spoke to said I was an excellent candidate for a uvulaplasty. They absolutely pointed out all potential risks/negative side effects to me.

It should help my sleep apnea, and I'll no longer have to worry about having a shitty uvula!

imminent_riot5 karma

Did they take the entire thing or just part of it?

thelinestepper6 karma

The whole uvula and part of my soft palate.

WeaponsGradeHumanity7 karma

What're you going to do if you ever get a part in a movie and they want to do one of those shots where you're screaming and the camera zooms in on your face and then mouth and then seems to go down your throat so they can go to black and transition to the next scene?

thelinestepper3 karma

From now on, I guess I'm just SOL on the movie parts.

soybjs6 karma

Do you miss it? I would miss mine, he's my best friend.

thelinestepper3 karma

Honestly, I wasn't sad to see the old son of a bitch go.

droomph6 karma

can you pronounce [q] anymore?

thelinestepper6 karma

Yeah, sounds normal.

WildberryPrince9 karma

Are you pronouncing the english letter <q> or the voiceless uvular stop /q/? I'd imagine directly after having your uvula removed, pronouncing a uvular stop would be...not so easy. It's the reason you mentioned French speakers having difficulties further up in the thread, since they have the uvular trill /ʀ/.

thelinestepper13 karma

Shit man, I have no idea. "Q".....how did that sound?

achemicaldream5 karma

That looks so incredibly painful. I assuming you can't eat? Did they say how long it would take to heal?

thelinestepper9 karma

They said a good 2, maybe 3 weeks to heal up. I was able to eat some applesauce, but luckily I have a good juicer, and they recommended a liquid diet for the next 2 weeks. At home drinking some mean green juice as we speak.

crowber6 karma

when I got my tonsils out, yogurt helped a lot. I lived off of that.

thelinestepper2 karma

Not a huge yogurt guy. Just juicing it up.

mykeuk5 karma

Has it affected your gag reflex?

thelinestepper9 karma

The uvula itself? It's possible. I don't have the strongest gag reflex (I gag when I brush my tongue while brushing my teeth), so maybe the removal will help.

appcat5 karma

Please report back on this, I need to know for umm science.

thelinestepper3 karma

"It helps with fellatio." -The chick from Pulp Fiction with all the shit in her face

zfrop4 karma

So, you no longer have your courage hangyball... is the world frightening?

thelinestepper3 karma

Terrifying.

Raveo4 karma

If you've had it completely removed wouldn't it be a uvulaectomy?

thelinestepper6 karma

The term on my paper work is uvulopatatopharyngoplasty.

gfpm3 karma

What is the procedure to remove your uvula? I've seen antique doctors tools which look like wire cutters and the doctors would snip your tonsils and uvula in office. Also were you in the ICU for an extended time like they do with tonsils since it's such a high risk of post-op infection?

thelinestepper3 karma

I just had the surgery yesterday and they kept me overnight for observation. I would assume they just used a scalpel. I've seen the old-timey medical instruments you're talking about, and they are scary.

wevans593 karma

When did you realise something was wrong with your uvula?

thelinestepper3 karma

I wanna say it was May of 2014. For about the third time I'd developed an inflamed uvula that was really tender, swollen, stretched out, etc, and I also developed an ulcer/canker sore on it. I couldn't even breathe without excruciating pain. So I went to the VA to see if they could prescribe me some Novocain spray or something. They could really do much for me, but the doctor who examined me told me a uvula wasn't really necessary and suggested I follow up with ENT and see about having it removed.

And here I am today!

theofficialdeavmi3 karma

How does it feel? Different. Tastes?

thelinestepper4 karma

Well, right now it's quite painful, especially when swallowing. The taste is slightly bloody/mucousy.

theofficialdeavmi3 karma

Oh, okay. Hope everything goes well and that it feels better. ;D

thelinestepper3 karma

Thanks a lot!

NotTheKetchup3 karma

Does coughing, yawning, laughing, and/or sneezing hurt?

thelinestepper3 karma

Everything hurts, but hooray for Percocet!

theyoungmachines3 karma

Are the stitches the kind that dissolve? I couldn't imagine them pleasant to have taken out.

I had my tonsils removed this time last year and while they aren't the same surgery. I am sure some of my tips for pain/comfort will help. If you can get ice packs that wrap around your neck get them. It helps a lot with swelling. Stay hydrated! Not sure what your tolerance is but I could not handle cold foods whatsoever. I drank room temperature water only. If you are having a hard time getting any food down I suggest Boost or Ensure to at least get something in you. Also, hang in there! It can be a long frustrating road to recovery but it's worth it.

thelinestepper3 karma

Actually, that's a good question. I would imagine they used dissolvable stitches, but who knows. And thanks for the tips! I have a juicer, so I've been able to make some of that since I've been home.

raitch3 karma

My husband had a u3p done 11 days ago, along with a septoplasty. He's still having mouth pain now, but it's the worst when he wakes up in the morning. Do you have any questions for him? I... I guess I'm not asking you anything!

thelinestepper2 karma

How bad was his pain when he first got out? Mine is bad, but not really unbearable, so I'm hoping I'll be spared the worst of it.

Angelus3333 karma

how does it affect the way you talk? I'm thinking of having this done as mine stretches a bit and bugs the crap out of me when sleeping and running.

thelinestepper3 karma

I've been told it shouldn't affect me very much, if at all. I just had it done yesterday so I've got some swelling going on. /u/RedshirtStormtrooper had one done last month and appears very eager to talk about it, so maybe he/she would be nice enough to answer your question!

Spikekuji3 karma

So how are you passing the time, besides reddit? Care to recommend any subs while you are here? And do you use a cpap for the apnea?

thelinestepper3 karma

I was discharged around midday today, so now I'm just watching Ravens v Patriots, drinking juice, and taking percocet. /r/trees is always good, /r/AppalachianTrail, /r/cleavage, and /r/MURICA!

I do use a CPAP. The VA recently hooked me up with a brand new state-of-the-art machine, which was really awesome of them. It features a full face mask (covers nose and mouth), which has been great.

torgis303 karma

Do you have any pics from before the surgery? We are all dying to see your oddly-shaped uvula.

thelinestepper3 karma

Ha, I wish I did. But when it got all stretched out, imagine a thumb hanging down in the back of your mouth.

hazelquarrier_couch3 karma

Nursing school student here. I just did a report on sleep apnea and discovered that this is an option. I'd be interested to find out if this helps with it, since it's not 100% effective for that. Would you report back after healing?

thelinestepper2 karma

Sure. They told me that it wasn't 100% effective, so obviously it might not fix me, but I figured that with the other problems I've had with my uvula I might as well just go through with it. If it doesn't help, then what the hell...I haven't really lost anything.

gfpm3 karma

Besides your uvula

thelinestepper3 karma

Indeed. But I view that as addition by subtraction.

joshbro42 karma

Do you still have a gag reflex after this?

thelinestepper1 karma

I don't know. I won't know until after I heal up. I'm suppose I will, though.

AdamWestses2 karma

Could you wiggle it like you would an ear?

thelinestepper2 karma

I've never had that much dexterity.

jaab19971 karma

How can you swallow? (I thought the uvula is needed to both open stomach and close wind pipe)

thelinestepper2 karma

I don't know, I just do, and I just did.

sonicboom2411-2 karma

Do you play video games?

thelinestepper3 karma

Every six months or so I seem to go on a Beatles: Rock Band binge. Other than that, not so much.