Snoring is a condition in which a person tends to make some sort of noises while in the deep stages of sleep. It is caused due to the relaxation of the airways that in turn reduces the size of the airways, making it narrower. So when a person breathes in or breathes out, the air gets blocked and collides with tissues present around the throat. This air collision ultimately leads to the vibration of the throat tissues, producing a sound known as a snore.
Factors Which Cause Snoring
Snoring can be a very discomforting feeling for the snorer as well as their non-snoring sleeping partner. It is caused due to several factors such as:
- Lack of Sleep
- Irregular Sleeping Pattern
- Consumption of Alcohol
- Consumption of Sleeping Pills or Sedatives
- Sleep Position
All the above mentioned factors contribute to snoring. However, just like how every cloud has a silver lining, similarly, even snoring is curable. While some people prefer using Herbal Treatment or Natural Remedies, some are not satisfied until proper professional help is given to them to fix the problem. That is when Somnoplasty comes in.
Somnoplasty – The Snoring Surgery
Somnoplasty is a surgical procedure performed in order to cure snoring. This surgery cures snoring by using heat energy to remove the tissues of Uvula and Soft Palate. It is an in-office procedure conducted with a local anesthesia. It is to be noted however, that Somnoplasty treats snoring, and is not recommended to try and treat Sleep Apnea.
How Does Somnoplasty Work?
Somnoplasty is a unique surgical method which is used to reduce habitual snoring by removing or stiffening the tissues of the Uvula and Soft Palate which get relaxed during the deep stages of sleep.
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 soft palate. These burn areas are eventually reabsorbed by the body, shrinking the tissue volume and stiffening the tissues, thereby reducing snoring. While this surgery is quite sophisticated, it is not a very complicated procedure and is performed under local anesthesia in an outpatient setting. It takes approximately thirty minutes to be completed.
In order to perform this sophisticated surgery, the doctor must rule out any sign of Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Sleep Apnea is a breathing disorder that happens when a person is fast asleep. It has been associated with snoring for a long time. However, it does not necessarily mean that if a person is snoring then he or she is suffering from Sleep Apnea. In order to rule the sleep apnea factor out, the doctor must start by conducting a sleeping test which is conducted at home where the person’s sleeping pattern is monitored.
Side Effects and Long Term Effects of Somnoplasty
All surgical procedures come with risks and side effects and so does Somnoplasty. The side effects and risks are rare in Somnoplasty, but it is important to have knowledge about them as a patient deserves the right to know all pros and cons before opting for any surgical procedure. This is the only way which can assure them peace of mind before and after the procedure. Following is a list of all those things that could go wrong and all the side effects that may occur at some point in your life after opting for a Somnoplasty:
Failure to Resolve or Eliminate Snoring: Most surgeons feel that about 80% of patients who opt for a Somnoplasty tend to notice a significant reduction in the severity of their snoring problem which is viable for least for a year or more. An additional percentage of patients notice reduced levels of snoring which are not as disturbing and noisy as their original levels.
Failure to Cure Sleep Apnea or Other Pathological Sleep Disorders: Severe sleeping disorders, like Sleep Apnea are medical problems which have their own treatment methods. A lot of people expect Somnoplasty to treat such disorders which is not possible. Such disorders should be diagnosed separately and be treated accordingly.
Nasal Regurgitation: Shortly after this surgery a change in voice is often experience. A lot of people often experience the flow of liquids into the nasal cavity during swallowing. This condition is called Velopharyngeal Insufficiency. While it is rare, it is not a side effect which can be ruled out.
Need for More Aggressive Surgery: Sometimes, the surgery tends to worsen the condition and hence a patient requires more surgical assistance.
- Long Lasting Pain
- Impaired Healing
Thermal or Electrical Injury: This is often experienced to the mucus membranes of the Soft Palate, Uvula, or Mouth and can lead to tissue loss due to burning.
Recurrence of Snoring: A lot of patients experience recurrence of snoring after a year). This usually occurs because the tissues tend to stretch out over time.
Efficacy of Somnoplasty
After the procedure, the effects of the surgery are not felt immediately. In fact, the patient tends to snore more than usual because of the swelling. However, they start feeling a significant impact in two or three weeks and the improvement is felt for several months. After the procedure, patients are not allowed to eat or drink until the anesthesia wears off completely. Due to a sore throat, they are also asked to take medication to soothe it. It is also recommended to sleep with two to three pillows so that the head remains elevated while sleeping.
Things to Keep In Mind – Costs, Doctor/Clinic Recommendations and More
Somnoplasty costs around $2000 to $3000 and the entire procedure is conducted within thirty to forty five minutes. Usually the cost of this surgery is covered by insurance. Doctors first conduct a sleep test after which they decide whether to go further with the procedure or not. Somnoplasty is a treatment that has been recently introduced in several clinics. It is best to look for one which is fully equipped with the last equipment and is recommended highly by your own physician. It is also important to learn more about the doctor first by checking for references.