Somnoplasty – An Alternate Fix for Snoring

By Clinton Marquardt - Sleep & Fatigue Specialist

February 10, 2007

sleep tests, snoring

The often irregular patterns of snoring and not snoring can make it difficult to isolate snoring’s cause. It is often related to obesity, alcohol consumption and smoking. In these cases, changes to your lifestyle will make the biggest difference. But when snoring’s cause is related to sleep apnea, the best treatment is the use of a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) system. If you are like most people, the prospect of having to wear a CPAP mask all night long for the rest of your life feels very grim. Fortunately, there are alternatives available and many people are turning to somnoplasty to reduce or even stop the sleep apnea and cut down on the snoring. This procedure targets areas in the upper airway that relax and become floppy during sleep. These areas will often temporarily block air from going in or out of your upper airway. This is called an apnea and it often occurs alongside snoring.

Somnoplasty is a procedure performed by a medical doctor who is usually an Ear Nose and Throat (ENT) specialist. While the patient is under local anesthesia, the doctor uses low temperature radio frequency energy to create small lesions in areas of the soft palate and uvula. The process essentially damages well-defined surface layers of the soft palate called mucosa.

Within four to six weeks the body naturally removes the treated tissue. This reduces the size of the soft palate and stiffens the area so it can no longer flop around and cause apneas and snoring.

Although the procedure usually takes less than thirty minutes, it can take a month before improvements are seen. Side effects can include swelling and mild throat pain, similar to the symptoms of an oncoming cold. Depending on the severity of your apneas and snoring, somnoplasty may need to be repeated.

To figure out if somnoplasty can help, you should have an overnight sleep study performed in a reputable sleep disorders centre. Using the results of the sleep study, the team of sleep specialists should be able to provide you with an idea of how well somnoplasty will help reduce your sleep apnea and snoring.

If sleep apnea and snoring are keeping you or your partner up at night, don’t let it go undiagnosed and untreated. There are options available today to treat the various causes. Talk to your doctor today to find out where you can have a sleep study performed.

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