How to Stop Snoring by Surgery…and Is It Worth It?

old man snoring

If you have slept with a snorer, then you must have been left with several unanswered questions regarding snoring. Snoring is an act of producing noisy sound while sleeping. It is a common problem that affects people of all ages, gender, and race. Though it is considered harmless, snoring can be very nettlesome. Studies have shown that males and the overweight are the best snorers. Snoring can also be very embarrassing and can deter you from having a peaceful night sleep especially when sleeping with a loud snorer. Snoring can be intermittent or nightly, and may even become more intense as you age! Some research has shown that snoring can cause other health related effects such as heart disease and daytime dysfunction. Additionally, if you are a loud snorer, you stand a high risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea. Before you decide to kick out the habit of snoring, you may need to understand what causes snoring in the first place.

What causes snoring?

man snoringHere are some facts about causes of snoring.

  • Snoring results from vibration of the throat and nose tissues within the airway.
  • Turbulent airflow through restricted or narrow airways causes snoring.
  • The normal process of aging causes relaxation of the throat muscles leading to snoring.
  • Anatomical abnormalities in the nose and throat such as enlarged nasal polyps, adenoids, and/or a deviated nasal septum cause excessive narrowing of the throat when you are sleeping.
  • Sleeping on your back, though considered one of the healthier positions, can make you snore. This is due to the tongue relaxing backward into the throat, hence, blocking the air passage.
  • Excessive intake of drugs such as alcohol and cigarette smoking can worsen snoring. Cigarette smoking has been found to cause throat weakening making it susceptible to clogging from mucus and other substances. Alcohol too is a powerful muscle relaxant that can lead to narrowing of throat and nose muscles.
  • Weight also puts you at a high risk of snoring. When you are overweight, you tend to have large tissues on your throat and neck that may block airways, thus causing snoring.

High-level effects of snoring

2000px-obstruction_ventilation_apnee_sommeil-svgPrimary or normal snoring can be harmless but excessive snoring ?can be detrimental to your health. Primary snoring is identified by loud breathing and vibrations in the upper airway without there being an apnea episode. Obstructive sleep apnea, on the other hand, often causes excessive snoring which also includes periods during which breathing stops. When you find snoring is taking a toll on your personal health, it is advisable to seek medical treatment. High levels of snoring can lead to high blood pressure, heart attacks and sometimes stroke. Prolonged snoring can cause enlargement of your heart. Moreover, snorers sleep lightly. They unconsciously try to keep their throat muscles tense to maintain proper air flow.

Extreme snoring results in low oxygen levels in the blood. It makes you susceptible to getting pulmonary hypertension due to constricted blood vessels. Additionally, elevated levels of snoring also cause chronic headaches and frequent waking up from sleep. Since you don?t get ample time to sleep, you are also more likely to develop obesity, daytime sleepiness, and fatigue. These are all long-term results from long interruptions of normal breathing.

There are several remedies for?snoring, and it should be said that?natural techniques are often favoured. However, in case you have excessive snoring, you can opt for snoring surgery. Snoring surgeries involve the use of different techniques aimed at removing excess tissues at the back of your throat, preventing the tongue from blocking the airway, reshaping the jaws and nasal passages. Somnoplasty is a very common example of this since it targets the soft palate, a fairly frequent cause of snoring. This method?specifically uses radio frequency heat energy to reduce the size of your throat and soft palate. Ultimately though, surgery for snoring often depends on sites and vibrations within your throat. Let’s understand a few of the factors that may make somnoplasty a good choice for you.

Why would you opt for Somnoplasty?

Here are four (4) major reasons why somnoplasty may be attractive:

Somnus somnoplasty device

A Somnus device (Image courtesy of MedWow.com)

  • It is safe compared to other techniques such as the use of a laser. Somnoplasty uses little radiofrequency heat energy to reduce habitual snoring.
  • It takes the least time possible to complete. In less than 30 minutes, you will be done. It is often done under a local anaesthetic as an outpatient treatment.
  • It is a viable treatment method for severe snoring. In case you?ve tried other methods but failed, then Somnoplasty might be your last option.
  • It is an approved method for treating prolonged snoring. Somnoplasty is an FDA approved procedure for curbing disturbances caused by excessive snoring. It is an accredited process that does not involve any severe side effects and complications. It is very effective in controlling chronic snoring.

How to Stop Snoring by Surgery and What You Can Expect from Surgery for Snoring

Diagram showing areas for snoring surgeryThere are several surgical choices that your doctor can make when seeking to stop or reduce snoring. One of them is Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (try saying that ten times fast) which is the removal of excess tissues from the throat. It helps promote smooth airflow and reduces snoring.

Besides this is Laser Assisted Uvulopalatoplasty. It targets overgrown and poorly shaped uvulas. Its success rate is about 95%. When undergoing the procedure, you have to remain awake and upright. The process leaves you with a minor sore throat with no stitches.

Other procedures include tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy. These will be used in case you have extended adenoids and tonsils that block air passage.

Nasal Septoplasty is another and helps to strengthen the tissues and bones in the septum. In the case of nasal deformity, you can expect Nasal Septoplasty to be very effective.

Nasal polypectomy, yet another form of treatment, is the removal of soft tissues called polyps that are known to project?into the nasal passages. Plastic cylinders can also be implanted into the soft palate to help harden and eliminate vibration.

Gastric Bypass surgery is another option that you can consider to eliminate snoring. It involves the shrinking of stomach size through bypassing it. This is ideal if your snoring is linked to obesity.

Repose Tongue suspension is minimally invasive surgical procedure that helps stabilize the tongue when you are asleep. It prevents it from falling back and blocking the airway. A titanium screw is placed on your lower jaw to hold your tongue when you sleep. It is an outpatient procedure and lasts for about 20 minutes. The benefit of this method is that it is reversible and can be done alongside other surgical operations. There are no incisions made in this operation.

2000px-cauterisation_des_parties_molles_-_apnee_du_sommeil-svgInjection snoreplasty is used to treat snoring caused by vibrations of throat tissues. The surgeon will give you a local anaesthetic then inject you an agent called sodium tetradecyl sulfate under your skin. This is a hardening chemical that hardens the scar tissue and pulls the uvula forth. It is a safe procedure that has high success rate.

Last but not least is Somnoplasty. It uses a Somnus device or “gun” that is heated to 158 and 176 degrees. It pierces the affected sections of your throat, tongue and soft palate based on the cause of your condition. The surrounding tissues are not damaged in the process, and the body later absorbs the burnt tissues in less than eight weeks. The procedure helps reduce the obstructive tissues and also stiffens the soft palate, thus reducing snoring sounds.?Interestingly enough, many patients (after the initial injections of anaesthetic), find the procedure to be pretty comfortable!?As said before, this?is an outpatient technique that only takes 30-45 minutes to be performed.

Surgical intervention is?not be for everyone, but for those recommended by their physician to undertake specific procedures, here’s a look at some general pros and cons:

Pros of Surgery for Snoring
  • It is safe and offers relief from?snoring problems. Since it is offered based on the cause of snoring, it assures complete treatment. The FDA has approved most of the surgical operations.
  • Minimal adverse risks and complications are expected from the procedures selected.
  • It utilizes the latest technology, which?assures optimal results with high success rates. Patients who have undergone surgical procedures for snoring have realized significant improvements in their conditions.
  • It is not time-consuming. A typical surgical treatment takes about 30 minutes to complete.
Cons of Surgery for Snoring
  • Can be expensive compared to other traditional techniques of treating snoring. A single treatment can cost hundreds of dollars.
  • Snoring isn?t considered a serious medical problem, so it might not be covered by your insurance plan.
  • Surgery for snoring is still surgery. So that means you will feel pain when it is over and there will be a recovery period where it will be difficult to do certain normal tasks.
  • You may experience bleeding, swelling and infection. There may be a feeling that something is in your throat.

Hope you found this to be informative. If you have or are considering this method to curing your snoring, please drop me a comment below and I’ll be sure to respond as soon as is possible!

Sleep well until next time.

Josh

8 Comments

  1. Nemanja

    Hey!

    My father is a snorer. His snores are like a lion’s roar, echoing throughout the house. I’ve been wondering about ways to stop snoring, but i don’t think surgery is the right way here..

    What would you say is the best alternative to surgery? He’s not going to like surgery as the only option, besides, he thinks his snoring isn’t that bad, haha.

    Thank you for this post.

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hey Nemanja, I know exactly what you mean. My Dad used to be fond of a drink before bed when he was in his 60s, and as a result he would always snore a lot. Now in his 80s, he’s much more health conscious and I haven’t heard him snore much at all. It could be that there are other things to you need to investigate first with your dad…for example, is he often fatigued in the daytime? How is his blood pressure–and does he have frequent morning headaches or migraines? What’s his preferred sleeping position? Answers to those will help you gauge what’s happening with his health. I always recommend going for more natural means and exercises to try and correct snoring as well. Let me know how that works out!

      Reply
  2. Forrest BB Clem

    Thomas,

    Thanks for the post. I have been told that I snore loudly. I don’t believe that I do. I never heard myself so I don’t believe it. Well I guess I do because I’ve been told that by several different people. I always avoided the surgery idea because I head you can be laid up for a long time and it might not work and it’s risky. Is that true? Also, right no I am not insured so I would have to absorb the cost myself. Is it very expensive?

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hi Forrest, thanks for reaching out. Remember that surgery is one of several medical options you can use to assist with managing your snoring. Surgery isn’t necessarily for everyone, and it’s better if you have a doctor give you a sleep study first to help you determine what your next steps ought to be. I say this especially since snoring isn’t always considered to be a serious medical issue (very strange!) so you would need to verify coverage for any procedures with your insurance provider. Besides that, there are some natural treatments you could try along with some exercises. Try those out for the next 6 weeks and let me know how you fare!

      Reply
  3. Chris

    Hey Thomasjet,
    I just read your post about how to stop snoring by surgery and there is a lot of good information about snoring and what causes it.

    I was just wondering if you do get a surgery to stop the snoring, wouldnt’ it be hard to breath after getting the surgery when you try to sleep?

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hi Chris, that’s a fair question! The great thing is you don’t have to worry about difficulty breathing since the techniques used are primarily reductive in nature (ie. they serve to reduce the size of potential obstructions). You may have other side effects however, such as difficulty swallowing or a persistent feeling that something is in your throat for a few days after the selected surgery.

      Reply
  4. Liberty

    Learned some great info here. Who would of thought snoring could be so destructive to your health. Question though, what determines the difference between primary/normal snoring and excessive snoring?
    Also i don’t know if I saw what the most common surgery was to fix snoring or is it a case by case basis?

    Reply
    1. Joshua (Post author)

      Hey Liberty, glad you found this to be informative. You raised a very valid question regarding primary vs excessive snoring–I’ve updated my post to clarify. Primary snoring is usually characterised by loud breathing noises in the upper airway without any interruption of breathing whereas excessive snoring includes apneas. The most common cause of snoring is due to the size of the soft palate. Since somnoplasty tends to target that area, it’s also pretty frequently used in those instances. The physician however has the ultimate say in what may work best since it requires a thorough understanding of a patient’s makeup (ie. where are you having vibration and/or obstruction).

      Reply

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