Somnoplasty is a medical procedure approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat habitual snoring by using radiofrequency ablation to remove tissues of the uvula and soft palate.
Before surgery, the patient will receive instructions from a doctor which medication he/she must or must not take prior to surgery, usually aspirin and anti-inflammatory medications because these medications can affect platelet and blood clotting.
Somnoplasty is an outpatient procedure that takes 30-45 minutes. During the procedure, the patient’s throat area will be anesthetized with oral spray and after the throat is partially anesthetized, the patient will receive approximately three small injections in the roof of the mouth.
Then, the patient will sit upright and the surgeon will place the Somnus “gun” device which is connected to a radiofrequency generator into patient’s mouth. Radiofrequency will be applied through the small electrodes at the end of the device into the soft palate (back of the roof of the mouth) and the tissue will be heated.
After the procedure, the patient can drive home. During the first few nights, it is best that the patient sleep with head elevated on 2-3 pillows to minimize edema and swelling. The patient can feel fullness in the back of the throat and sore throat for several days, but the symptoms can be minimized with medication.
Also, snoring can be expected to be worse immediately after the procedure because of local swelling of the tissues treated, but it will improve in one or two weeks. After 7 to 10 days, an appointment for a checkup should be made.
The patient must call his/her doctor immediately if he/she is having:
- Difficulty breathing
- Extreme difficulty swallowing
- Sudden bleeding from the surgical site
Complications after surgery are rare but it can occur:
- Prolonged pain
- Bleeding, or impaired healing
- Failure to resolve or eliminate snoring (in less than 20% of patients)
- Nasal regurgitation
- A change in voice, or velopharyngeal insufficiency whereby liquids may flow into the nasal cavity during swallowing
- Thermal or electrical injury to the mucus membranes of the soft palate, uvula, or mouth (as a result in tissue loss by burn)
- Need for revision, or further and more aggressive surgery