Everyone snores occasionally. However, 25% of the population are considered habitual snorers. Habitual snoring not only prevents those within hearing range from getting quality rest, it can also prevent the snorer from getting the quality of rest that they need as well. In many cases, snoring can be resolved with lifestyle changes, such as weight loss or oral appliances. In a small percentage of cases, when the snoring is very severe and may involve sleep apnea, and all other methods have failed, surgery is required to help alleviate the problem.
Why do People Snore?
As we breathe, air passes through our mouth or nose, through the throat and into the lungs. While we are standing or sitting, the anatomy of the mouth and throat, such as the fatty tissue and muscles are tight with use or pulled down with gravity. While sleeping, the passageways become partially blocked in a number of possible ways. When the air passes by these obstructions it causes them to vibrate, and the sound of snoring. As explained by WebMD experts, some of these obstructions which snoring surgery would address include:
• Poor Muscle Tone in the throat and tongue can cause them to become too relaxed while sleeping, causing them to collapse and block the airway.
• Long soft palate or uvula can also narrow the passageway between the nose and throat.
• Abnormally shaped or deviated septum can cause difficulty breathing.
Surgical Options for Snoring
There are several surgical options to help stop snoring.
• Pillar procedure is a minimally invasive procedure which uses small polyester implants placed in the soft palate, providing structural support for the tissue
• Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty is used to widen the throat and air passageway by removing extra tissue
• Laser-assisted uvuloplasty uses a laser to remove the excess tissue, and is considered less invasive
• Radiofrequency palatoplasty uses an electrical current directed at the tissue, causing it to stiffen. With the tissue firmer, it is less likely to vibrate while breathing
• Nasal septoplasty is used to straighten the bone and tissues of the septum, which allows the air to move more freely.
• Nasal polypectomy is used to remove any polyps that have developed and may be blocking the passage of air in the nose
• Tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy may be used for passageways blocked by enlarged tonsils and adenoids
Is Surgery for Snoring Successful?
Snoring surgery is considered only in the most severe cases and the jury is still out in the medical community as to the long term effectiveness of each procedure. Many new techniques have been developed and proven very successful, but have not been around long enough to be fully evaluated for their long term success rates. Before considering a procedure to end snoring, consider the risks and rates of success. According to eMedicine experts some of the risks include:
• Failure to stop snoring
• Nasal regurgitation, or liquids flowing into the nasal cavity
• Change in voice
• Prolonged pain
Snoring is not always considered a medical problem. Some insurance companies only consider covering some procedures that can help stop snoring if the patient is also experiencing sleep apnea.