Obstructive sleep apnea, in which the soft tissues at the rear of the throat close off the airway opening repeatedly during sleep, can have serious consequences for a patient’s health and quality of life. Fortunately, effective treatment options are available.
One minimally invasive intervention used to treat obstructive sleep apnea is somnoplasty. In performing this procedure, an oral surgeon will use a small electrode to deliver radiofrequency energy at the base of the patient’s tongue. This causes clotting lesions to form under the surface of the tongue in the target area. Over the course of the next several weeks, those lesions are resorbed.
This reduces the volume of tongue tissue available to obstruct the airway opening and cause sleep apnea, while simultaneously leaving the remaining tissue stiffer and less susceptible to sliding out of place.
When considering any treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, it is important to confirm that you actually have the condition first. Otherwise, the treatment probably won’t be effective. Therefore patients should complete a sleep study, which can be done in the comfort of one’s own home or at a sleep center.
The somnoplasty procedure generally takes less than one hour, although the patient may need to complete a number of sessions to achieve the desired effects. Most patients will need only a local anesthetic for somnoplasty.
The risks associated with this procedure are relatively minor and include a chance of swelling, bleeding or infection. Discuss any concerns with your oral surgeon in advance of the procedure, and make sure that you are familiar with any signs of a problem that might warrant follow-up with the surgeon.
If you want to reduce your risk of the negative health outcomes associated with sleep apnea but have experienced limited success with other treatment methods, consider somnoplasty as an alternative. Schedule a consultation with our oral surgeon, Steven Koos DDS, MD, to learn more about this intervention and to determine whether it may be beneficial in your case.