1. Why do I snore?
Patients can snore due to a variety of obstructions in the airway. Based on your self-report of snoring and an evaluation of your airway, you snoring is likely due to loose tissue in your soft palate at the back of your mouth that vibrates when you breathe during sleep. While most patients experience a reduction in the volume and frequency of their snoring after treatment with Solea Sleep, you may continue to snore due to obstructions in other parts of your airway. Your snoring may also vary night to night based upon factors such as sleep position, alcohol consumption, or the use of sleep aids.
Snoring is a symptom of obstructive sleep apnea, a serious condition that involves pauses in breathing during sleep. Not everyone who snores has sleep apnea, but I'm going to make a referral for you to see a sleep specialist who can determine whether you have this condition.
2. How does the treatment work?
The Solea laser gently tightens the tissue in your soft palate, reducing vibrations that cause you to snore. The procedure is non-surgical, meaning that no tissue is cut during the procedure.
3. What will I feel during the procedure?
Most patients elect to be treated with a topical anesthetic spray prior to the procedure. This will reduce or eliminate the feeling of heat that you may experience in the areas being treated and will also reduce your gag reflex. The topical anesthetic will wear off before you leave the office, so you don't need to worry about going home numb. The procedure takes only 5 minutes to perform, and you can return to your normal routine immediately afterward.
4. What will I feel after the procedure?
You may feel mild irritation in the treatment area for one to two days after the procedure. Occasionally, patients experience isolated spots of mild ulceration, similar to a pizza burn, that lasts for a few days. You should begin to see improvement in the frequency and volume of your snoring in the first week after treatment.
5. What are alternative treatment options?
There are a number of treatment options available to treat snoring.
One common alternative to treat palatal snoring is a mandibular advancement device, sometimes referred to as a snore guard, that is worn during sleep to advance the jaw and open the airway. Treatment with Solea Sleep does not prevent future use of these devices if your snoring were to persist after treatment.
Other laser treatment options for snoring exist. One option called Nightlase, uses a different type of laser than Solea, with energy being absorbed by superficial layers of tissue. While treatment sessions take longer with this approach, and multiple visits are required, patients report high levels of satisfaction with the procedure. Because of the additional time required, Nightlase typically is more expensive for patients than Solea Sleep.
For severe cases, surgical options exist where tissue is removed that is obstructing the airway. These procedures, called a uvulopalatopharyngoplasty or uvulopalatoplasty, have shown mixed clinical outcomes and can result in significant post-operative pain. These treatments would typically be performed by an ENT.
Other approaches that may improve your snoring include cessation of alcohol and tobacco, as well as weight loss. Sleeping on your side instead of your back may also help.