Snoring is a social nuisance and, as the snorer often finds out, can have a detrimental effect on a relationship with the person who sleeps next to you. It occurs as a result of soft tissue vibration caused by obstructed airflow during breathing while sleeping.
During sleep, the muscles in the tongue, throat and roof of the mouth relax, causing the loose tissue in the throat to sag. Breathing flaps this soft tissue about, leading to a narrowing or obstructing of the airways. The narrower the airways become, the greater the vibration, and the louder the snoring. Most snorers’ partners suffer as a result. So it’s not surprising that any new treatment that claims to cure or at least reduce this problem is regarded as a beacon of hope in the dark of the night.
The latest non-invasive treatment of snoring involves a laser. The new treatment utilises a specialised non-ablative fractional erbium yag laser (Er: YAG as it’s known colloquially) to heat up the uvula – the little pink dangling tissue of the palate at the back of your throat. The procedure stimulates the soft palate and uvula shrinkage and neocollagenesis in the mucosal area as well. This results in the tightening and toning of the palatal tissue in the centre part of the throat and helps to widen the airways allowing patients to breathe easier.
When patients are receiving the treatment, they experience a feeling of warmth on the targeted area. If they are uncomfortable with the intensity of the laser light applied, the dermatologist simply reduces the intensity of the power. The procedure is claimed to be pain free. There is no down time and normal activities may be resumed immediately after the procedure without any restrictions. It requires no anesthesia and is an outpatient procedure that takes about 15 to 30 minutes per session. The course of treatment requires 3-5 sessions, spread over two months. Results may be seen from the first day itself and are enhanced over the period of the entire course. The results last for about a year.
In conclusion, this treatment minimises snoring to a great extent or can stop it completely in some patients depending upon the extent of snoring to begin with, and its causes. Studies have suggested that up to 80 per cent of patients gain benefit from this treatment.
THANISORN THAMLIKITKUL MD is a member of the American Society of Cosmetic Dermatology and Aesthetic Surgery and certified in dermatological laser surgery. Send your questions for her to firstname.lastname@example.org