Breakthrough procedure can provide solution to snoring

Breakthrough procedure can provide solution to snoring

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - National studies show almost 50 percent of men and 30 percent of women snore.

So chances are you're either kept awake by the sound of sawing logs or you're the one making all the noise.

There’s now a medical breakthrough helping Mid-Southerners get back to sleep without the sounds.

Stacy Parker accepted she was a snorer three years ago.

“I noticed my disturbance in the night, waking myself up and then of course my husband, Tim, would wake up,” Parker said. “And I would feel so sorry for him because he would have a pillow over his head.”

Parker’s search for relief included sleep tests and a sleep apnea machine, but nothing seemed to work.

“You know when you’re snoring and you’re being disturbed you think you hear noises or some movement wakes you up, but it’s not,” Parker said. “It’s your snoring that’s waking you up.”

Then, Parker discovered an in-office procedure she says changed everything.

“The best analogy I can think of is a mute on a guitar string,” said Dr. M. Boyd Gillespie, Chair of the Department of Otolaryngology and Head and Neck Surgery at UTHSC. “We’ll put a mute on a string to reduce the vibration and that’s what we are doing to the tissues.”

It’s called The Pillar Procedure, and here’s how it works:

Small implants about the size of rice are inserted into the soft palate tissue to stop the tissue from collapsing into the throat while sleeping.

Reduced vibration equals reduced snoring.

The procedure takes less than 30 minutes to perform and has been around for about a decade.

Dr. Gillespie said new techniques are providing better outcomes.

"It’s hard to make snoring go away completely so what we are doing is managing it and reducing it,” Dr. Gillespie said.

Dr. Gillespie said it usually takes about 90 days to see the full results of the implants.

For Parker, quieter nights began two weeks after she had the procedure.

“A total difference,” Parker said. “I feel better. I feel like before when you are so disturbed at night you’re napping at 2 or 3 because you’re just so exhausted, but with a good night sleep I don’t feel that anymore.”

Doctors say the Pillar Procedure is not recommended for people who have severe obstructive sleep apnea or who are significantly overweight.

Studies report few complications with the procedure other than a temporary sore throat or difficulty swallowing.

On occasion, the tip of an implant can protrude through the soft palate tissue. In that case, the implant can be either removed or replaced.

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