Sleepless nights can be frustrating and hard on your overall health. For some people, lost sleep occurs because their partner is loudly snoring through the night. But chronic snoring isn’t just an annoyance — it can sometimes signal larger health issues that might require medical attention.
“Millions of people snore, most of them men over the age of 20,” said Robert Bone, MD, chief of Head and Neck Surgery and Otology at Scripps Clinic in San Diego. “As many as 45 percent of people snore, and as many as 25 percent are chronic snorers. Male snorers far outnumber women who snore.”
To help chronic snorers — and their partners and family — get a good night’s sleep, Dr. Bone treats his patients with somnoplasty, a proven procedure that he pioneered at Scripps Clinic six years ago.
“If you snore loudly and frequently and do not have other breathing disorders, Somnoplasty may be the solution for you,” he said.
Somnoplasty uses low-temperature radio waves to treat a well-defined area in the soft palate. A small prong is inserted into the mouth toward the back of the throat. Then radiofrequency energy is delivered beneath the surface of the soft palate, called the mucosa.
The treated tissue is heated just enough to create an area of coagulation. Over the next four to six weeks, the body naturally rids itself of the treated tissue, reducing volume and stiffening the area responsible for snoring.
The procedure takes place in the doctor’s office under local anesthesia, and typically lasts no longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Patients need two to four treatments, and the procedure is 80 percent effective. Treatment costs $2,000 to $3,000 and is covered by some insurance. Dr. Bone treats about 800 patients a year.
“Somnoplasty is the state-of-the-art procedure for snoring,” Dr. Bone said. “It can provide much-needed relief to chronic snorers and their families.”
Along with snoring, Somnoplasty can also be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, excessive daytime sleepiness and chronic nasal obstruction.