Snoring affects 25 percent of Americans. While it may seem like a harmless condition, snoring can cause serious physical and emotional complications for patients and their partners. Snoring is also a sign of sleep apnea, a serious condition which causes breathing difficulties while sleeping. There are several treatments available for snoring including:
- Turbinate Reduction: This procedure reduces the small curved bones called turbinates that extend horizontally through the nasal passage. The purpose of the bones is to humidify and filter air, but when they are too large or inflamed, the turbinates can obstruct breathing and surgical reduction may be the best treatment.
- Septoplasty: This is a surgical procedure to correct defects or deformities of the septum, which is the tissue separating the nostrils. A number of medical conditions including nasal air passage obstruction, a deviated septum, tumors, chronic and uncontrolled nosebleeds, or the presence of polyps may require septoplasty for treatment.
- Somnoplasty: This minimally invasive surgical treatment for snoring removes tissue in the uvula and soft palate. Low levels of radiofrequency energy are used to burn away the lining of the soft tissue and eventually shrink its volume. This procedure helps to open up the passageway for air and reduce snoring as a result. This procedure helps to treat sleep apnea and feelings of daytime sleepiness, and is very effective in treating snoring.
The septoplasty procedure corrects a deviated septum, which occurs when the bone and cartilage that divides the two nostrils becomes displaced. During septoplasty surgery, the nasal septum is straightened and relocated to the middle of the nose. Often the septum is cut and removed prior to repositioning. Minor deviations in the septum location are not unusual. However, in severe cases, the deviated septum may cause breathing difficulties through one or both nostrils. While generally a safe and effective procedure, complications from septoplasty include pre-existing symptoms that persist after surgery, changes to the shape of the nose, decreased sense of smell, and temporary numbing in the upper gum.
The nasal turbinates are two pairs of structures that line the nasal airway, extending to the adenoids. The inferior turbinate pair provides surface area for the mucous membrane that both collects dirt and debris during inhalation and humidifies incoming air. In some people, the inferior turbinates remain chronically swollen, leading to a congested feeling and breathing difficulties. This might occur because of a broken nose, where turbinate tissue fills in areas created by damage or deviation. Surgical solutions to inferior turbinates focus on reducing their size. The submucous resection procedure removes some of the turbinate bony support structure, typically along with a small strip of the mucous membrane.
Severe snoring and obstructive sleep apnea frequently source back to limited airways. Soft tissue at the back of the throat may not be the origin of a patient’s condition, but removal of some of this tissue may relieve symptoms by increasing room along the airway. The uvulopalatopharyngoplasty, or UPPP, removes tissue from the throat, including some or all of the uvula, portions of the soft palate, and tonsils and adenoids, if these have not been removed previously. Typically, the UPPP procedure follows other attempts to correct sleep apnea or snoring. Lifestyle changes, including weight loss and change of sleep positions, CPAP, and oral appliances are among the first-line approaches to these issues. Without improvement, UPPP may be the next step.
Weakness in the soft palate may be a factor in up to 80% of people who suffer from snoring or obstructive sleep apnea problems. Pillar® implants address the problem of soft palate vibrations that contribute to snoring and sleep apnea. Tiny, woven implants placed into the tissue of the soft palate immediately add rigidity to the area. As well, the implants trigger the body’s fibrotic response, generating new tissue that also provides support to the soft palate, reducing tissue vibration that causes snoring, and preventing tissue collapse that contributes to sleep apnea.
Tonsillectomy refers to the surgical removal of the tonsils, a pair of tissue pads located at the back of the throat, one on each side. It’s common for the tonsils to become inflamed and infected frequently in children. When other treatment methods prove ineffective, tonsillectomy is considered. The procedure is also helpful for treating breathing disorders during sleep. Performed under general anesthesia, tonsillectomies are performed in one of two ways. With the traditional method, the tonsils are removed using a scalpel. Alternatively, specialized surgical tools use heat or ultrasound to destroy the tonsil tissue, while simultaneously controlling bleeding.
Palate Radiofrequency Tightening
The uvula and soft palate often contribute to both snoring and obstructive sleep apnea. Much of the tissue of these areas is redundant, and reducing each in size would also reduce the severity of snoring, while opening the airways to counter sleep apnea problems. Treating the tissue of the soft palate and uvula with controlled heating via a radiofrequency energy probe triggers the body’s repair mechanisms by creating lesions under the mucosal layer of the tissue. This damaged tissue flushes from the body over a period of weeks. Collagen in the area tightens, reducing the size of both the uvula and soft palate. With increased firmness and reduced size, both snoring and sleep apnea issues typically see improvement.