Surgery – The Final Option
Visit any sleep clinic or snoring expert, and you may be surprised at how many high-tech snoring treatments are available today. There are new medical advances introduced every year to help the snoring population. Research continues for even better options for the future. Right now, some of the most up-to-date treatments available to chronic snorers include:
While surgery should always remain a last resort when all other treatment options fail, there are several very successful traditional, as well as laser, surgical options available to ease the snorer’s suffering.
One of the newest, and most favorable surgical methods now offered, The Pillar Method can reduce snoring by as much as 80% in most patients. This less invasive outpatient surgery is virtually painless. Three small invisible inserts are injected into the roof of the mouth in order to better support a sagging palate, and keep airways open. Local anesthesia is used to numb the palate. The inserts cannot be felt, and does not affect swallowing or speech in any way. Only 1% of patients have reported any adverse effects.
is the most common surgical procedure used to date to treat severe obstructive sleep apnea, and the snoring it causes. Traditionally, the surgery is performed using a conventional scalpel technique in which excess soft tissue in the throat and palate are removed to increase the width of the airway at the throat opening.
Since only a small amount of tissue can be removed at a time, the procedure may need to be repeated as many as 5 times before the full benefits of treatment is experienced. It is an invasive surgery that requires general anesthesia, and an overnight hospital stay. Adverse effects may include:
pain; bleeding; risk of infection; changes in voice frequency and a decreased efficiency of using CPAP after surgery.
One less invasive way to perform the surgery is now being used at Columbia University Hospital, where Dr. Jeffrey Ahn is experimenting with utilizing a harmonious scalpel for a less traumatic and painful outcome.
One of only several surgeons nationwide to offer this newer surgical method, Dr. Ahn uses extremely precise high speed sound waves to target the tissue and shrink it. The technique is very promising, according to the University, by offering patients a much less invasive and painful alternative to the scalpel.
Another option is the Laser Assisted Uvuloplastoplasty (LAUP), which is done by laser to remove not only excess throat tissue, but also the tonsils and adenoids.
This laser procedure is done in a doctor’s office under local anesthesia, and takes less than 30 minutes. Some swelling and discomfort may be felt for about 10 days, but is usually tolerated well with appropriate medication. Bleeding with this procedure is rare. Two treatments are generally recommended.
another new innovative outpatient procedure being used at some hospitals and doctor’s offices, is best described as a type of “facelift” for your mouth and throat. Using low-power, low temperature radio frequency energy applied with a needle, it creates coagulation in excess throat tissues, which are then reabsorbed, which ultimately reduces the volume of the airway. Less invasive than other treatment options, Somnoplasty is virtually painless, although some patients have reported a sensation of heat in the throat during the actual procedure.
Minor swelling and discomfort may be experienced for about a week. This procedure reduces snoring by up to 80% in most patients.
While the above surgical methods are recommended for treating most snoring and apnea problems, more severe cases may require more advanced treatment options including:
Genioglossus – hyod advancement, which helps to prevent the collapse of the lower throat and pulls the tongue muscles forward, in order to open a severely obstructed airway.
is the main tongue muscle in the mouth. If it relaxes during sleep, the tongue falls backward into the airway, obstructing breathing and causing severe snoring. During this high-tech surgical method, a small segment of the jaw bone (where the muscle attaches), is pulled forward and stabilized, it can also stabilize the airway space behind the tongue. It does not move the jaw or tongue.
A similar procedure is done with the more drastic Mandibular Advancement Procedure, which also reshapes the jaw and tongue (actually moving the tongue position), in order to enlarge the airway passage.
Both of these procedures are extremely invasive, and should only be considered under only the most serious medical circumstances.
is another very serious procedure that is only used on a very small number of patients, a Tracheostomy allows a secondary airway to be opened in the neck, by inserting a small tube in the windpipe to allow the patient to bypass the nose and mouth, and actually breathe through this new airway in the neck. This is a very serious procedure which is only rarely recommended.
While these high-tech surgical treatment options are available for snoring, many people benefit nicely from many of the non-invasive treatments and devices now on the market.