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Radiofrequency Palatoplasty for Snoring

Surgery Overview

Radiofrequency palatoplasty is a new procedure that uses an electrical current to shrink and stiffen the back part of the roof of the mouth (soft palate and uvula). When the soft palate and uvula are stiffer, they are less likely to vibrate and you are less likely to snore.

What To Expect

After the surgery, most people report a little pain, such as a mild sore throat, that lasts 1 or 2 days. Taking acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) usually eases this pain. Radiofrequency palatoplasty is usually performed in a doctor's office, and many people return to work and other regular activities in about 3 days.

Why It Is Done

Radiofrequency palatoplasty is sometimes used to treat snoring in people so that their bed partner can sleep better. One of the most common causes of snoring is the vibration of the soft palate and uvula. Radiofrequency palatoplasty shrinks and stiffens these areas of the mouth, making them less likely to vibrate.

How Well It Works

Compared with other surgery procedures for snoring, radiofrequency palatoplasty is relatively painless and it takes only a short time to recover.footnote 1

It takes about 4 weeks after the surgery for you to notice a decrease in your snoring. You may need additional treatments if the first one doesn't decrease your snoring enough.footnote 2 Because radiofrequency palatoplasty is a new procedure, how well it works over the long term is not known.

Risks

Complications during surgery include accidental damage to surrounding blood vessels or tissues.

Complications after surgery are rare. But complications after surgery may include:

  • Sleepiness and periods of not breathing (apnea) related to the medicines used to make you sleep during surgery.
  • Swelling, pain, infection, and bleeding.
  • A sore throat and trouble swallowing.
  • Drainage of secretions into the nose and a nasal quality to the voice. Speech may be affected with this surgery.
  • Narrowing of the airway in the nose and throat.

What To Think About

Surgery is rarely used to treat snoring. It may not completely cure snoring, and the risks of surgery may not be worth the small benefit you gain.

If you develop sleep apnea after having radiofrequency palatoplasty, diagnosis may be delayed because you do not snore. Snoring is common with sleep apnea, but most people who snore don't have sleep apnea.

Snoring is not always considered a medical problem, so insurance may not cover treatment.

Before considering surgery, all people who snore should try nonsurgical treatment.

References

Citations

  1. Kashima ML (2007). Selected disorders of the nose and throat: Epistaxis, snoring, anosmia, hoarseness, and hiccups. In NH Fiebach et al., eds., Principles of Ambulatory Medicine, 7th ed., pp. 1849-1864. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams and Wilkins.
  2. Chambers CL (2002). Surgical management of snoring. In TL Lee-Chiong Jr et al., eds., Sleep Medicine, pp. 429-433. Philadelphia: Hanley and Belfus.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Hasmeena Kathuria, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017


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