Surgically Assisted Rapid Palatal Expansion

What’s involved in the SARPE procedure?

Prior to surgery, the patient will require a custom-made specialized orthopedic expanding appliance made to fit in the palate. This expander is cemented to the first molars and premolars and activated with a special key. The key turns a screw within the expander to allow for separation of the right and left side of the upper jaw. The expander also functions as a retainer after the expansion has occurred. The actual SARPE surgery is performed at our office as an outpatient procedure under general anesthesia.

The surgeon will first use specialized instruments to perform multiple bone cuts in specific locations that will symmetrically expand the arch. No fixating devices are used other than the expander. Over the next several months, the patient will use the key every day to achieve incremental expansions, which commonly creates a space between the two front teeth. The expander will typically stay in the mouth after the expansion has been attained for about three months, at which time it is removed. Orthodontic treatment to close the space between the two front teeth will then begin. Patients generally do not find the procedure to be too uncomfortable or painful, and swelling commonly occurs. Patients are followed very closely during the first two weeks to ensure no complications are encountered. It’s commonly recommended that the patient eat soft foods after the procedure.