DOCTOR'S VIEW ARCHIVE

Somnoplasty... Treatment For Snoring

Snoring is a common problem. About one out of every four people snore. Snoring, as many women can attest, is more frequent in males and is associated with increasing body weight and advancing age.

The sounds that we typically associate with snoring are caused by varying degrees of obstruction of the upper airway (from the nose to the larynx). The noise comes from efforts to force air through the narrowed passageway.

Snoring occurs only during sleep. Why? Because during sleep the soft tissues of the throat relax and fall into the airway. The most common cause of snoring is thus from excessive vibration of the uvula and soft palate of the throat.

Snoring treatments have been almost as many as the number of snorers. Attempted remedies have included behavioral modification, devices to reposition the jaw and tongue, weight loss, and surgery.

Unfortunately, many of these treatments have had limited success. Or they are too involved to make the "cure really worth the treatment." (Some treatments work by keeping the offending snorer awake all night!)

A new treatment called Somnoplasty has been developed to address the problem of excessive vibration of the soft palate and uvula during sleep. It takes a new approach to snoring.

Somnoplasty is a method for reducing habitual snoring. It uses low-power, low-temperature radiofrequency energy to create finely controlled coagulative (clotting) lesions beneath the lining (the mucosa) of the soft palate and uvula. These lesions are eventually resorbed (reabsorbed) over several months, causing stiffening of the palate and a reduction of tissue volume, which in time leads to resolution of snoring.

Somnoplasty is performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. It takes on the average approximately 30 minutes.

Unlike laser procedures, Somnoplasty is essentially painless and minimal recovery is required. After the procedure, there is some swelling of the back of the throat. This often will cause a paradoxical increase in snoring for several weeks after the surgery. But then the snoring decreases.

Results are judged 6 to 8 weeks after the procedure. Depending on the degree of snoring, the Somnoplasty procedure may need to be repeated a second time.

Anyone who is considering treatment of their snoring requires a careful examination by a physician trained in sleep medicine. Severe snoring can be a sign of sleep apnea, a serious condition in which the snorer stops breathing repeatedly during the night. In persons suspected of suffering from sleep apnea, an overnight sleep study is done to test for the presence of sleep apnea or any other pathological sleep disorders. Untreated sleep apnea may lead to high blood pressure, fatal heart conditions, psychological problems, and excessive daytime sleepiness.

Somnoplasty was developed by a company called Somnus Medical Technologies. MedicineNet does not endorse proprietary medical, surgical or pharmaceutical products. However, we do think that the approach used in Somnoplasty is highly promising and needs to be brought to your attention.


Last Editorial Review: 5/3/2002