A Treatment For Snoring
- Somnoplasty is a surgical treatment for snoring.
- Somnoplasty uses heat energy to remove tissues of the uvula and soft palate.
- Somnoplasty is an in-office procedure done with local anesthesia.
- Somnoplasty is not indicated for the treatment of sleep apnea.
During normal breathing, air passes through the throat on its way to the lungs. The air travels past the tongue, soft palate, uvula, and tonsils. The soft palate is the back of the roof of the mouth. The uvula is the prominent anatomic structure dangling downward visibly at the back of the mouth (pharynx). When a person is awake, the muscles in the back of the throat tighten to hold these structures in place preventing them from collapsing and/or vibrating in the airway. During sleep, the uvula and soft palate frequently vibrate causing the distinctive sounds of snoring.
Somnoplasty is an unique surgical method for reducing habitual snoring by removing tissues of the uvula and soft palate. Unlike other approaches (such as the laser), somnoplasty uses very low levels of radiofrequency heat energy to create finely controlled localized burn-areas beneath the lining (mucosa) of the soft tissues of the throat. These burn areas are eventually resorbed by the body, shrinking the tissue volume, opening the passageway for air, and thereby reducing symptoms of snoring. Somnoplasty is performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting and takes approximately 30 minutes.
The following complications have been reported in the medical literature. This list is not meant to be inclusive of every possible complication. It is here for your information only, not to frighten you, but to make you aware and more knowledgeable concerning this procedure. Although many of these complications are rare, all have occurred, at one time or another, in the hands of experienced surgeons practicing the standards of community care. Anyone who is contemplating any type of surgery must weigh the potential risks and complications against the potential benefits of the surgery, or any alternative to surgery.
- Failure to resolve or eliminate snoring. Most surgeons feel that about 80% of patients who undergo a somnoplasty will have a significant or complete resolution in their snoring; and an additional percentage of patients will notice reduced levels of snoring such that their sleep partners will report that it's level is no longer offensive.
- Failure to cure sleep apnea or other pathological sleep disorders. Pathological sleep disorders, like sleep apnea, are medical problems which may have associated serious complications. At this time, the somnoplasty procedure has not been proven to cure these disorders.
- Nasal regurgitation, a change in voice, or velopharyngeal insufficiency whereby liquids may flow into the nasal cavity during swallowing (rare).
- Need for revision, or further and more aggressive surgery.
- Prolonged pain, infection, bleeding, or impaired healing.
- Thermal or electrical injury to the mucus membranes of the soft palate, uvula, or mouth. This may result in tissue loss by burn.
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