Most adults snore occasionally, but about 25 percent of the population snores several nights per week. Snoring is caused by the collapsing of the tissues in the back of the mouth and throat. The tissues relax excessively, partially block the airway, and vibrate against each other as you inhale.
Severe snoring problems can affect your breathing and your sleep quality, and they can keep your partner awake. If you snore regularly, you should seek treatment to help you and your partner sleep better. There are a wide variety of different snoring surgeries and procedures, but one of the most popular non-surgical options is injection snoreplasty. Before you decide to undergo injection snoreplasty, though, you should understand how the procedure works and what you should expect.
How the Procedure Works
The goal of injection snoreplasty is to harden up the soft palate, which is the tissue in the back of the roof of the mouth. When this tissue stiffens, it will no longer collapse over the airway and cause snoring. The procedure accomplishes this by injecting sclerosants into the soft palate.
Sclerosants are more commonly used to close varicose veins, but they’re very successful for treating the soft palate as well. The substance contains an irritant, which disrupts the space it’s injected into. It doesn’t actually harm the tissue, but it causes enough irritation that scar tissue forms, which is much tougher and stiffer than regular tissue.
It usually takes a few days to a few weeks for the scar tissue to develop enough for the patient to experience the benefits. Some people need multiple treatments to stop snoring entirely, but others are successful after just one procedure.
Benefits of Injection Snoreplasty
Injection snoreplasty is a helpful treatment for people whose snoring is caused by the vibration of the soft palate. About 80 to 85 percent of patients see an improvement in their snoring.
The results of injection snoreplasty are long-lasting and often permanent. Some snoring treatments, like mouthpieces and CPAP machines, require you to use an anti-snoring device every night. With injection snoreplasty, you only need one or two ENT appointments to start sleeping better every night. You don’t have to worry about bringing an anti-snoring device with you while you travel or sleeping uncomfortably with a mouthpiece in.
Surgical snoring treatments require general anesthesia, incisions, and a long recovery time. Injection snoreplasty is a non-surgical treatment, so the procedure and the recovery are both quick and straightforward. It only requires local anesthesia, and the entire appointment usually takes less than 30 minutes. Most people are able to go home right after the treatment and can return to work the next day.
Injection snoreplasty is relatively painless, too. Some patients feel slight irritation or discomfort in their mouth or throat for a few days, but it goes away quickly. Because it’s a fairly simple procedure, it also is less expensive than some other snoring surgeries. Snoring treatments aren’t often covered by health insurance, so cost is an important factor for most patients.
What to Expect During the Procedure
Before you undergo injection snoreplasty, you’ll meet with your ENT for an exam. Your doctor will make sure you’re a good candidate for the treatment. The soft palate isn’t the source of snoring for everyone, and the procedure is only successful for those who snore because of their soft palate.
When your return to your doctor for the procedure, they’ll begin by numbing your soft palate with a local anesthetic. Once the anesthetic kicks in, they’ll inject the sclerosant. Most people receive between one and three injections, but it depends on the size of the soft palate and how much scar tissue needs to form for it to stiffen.
As long as you don’t have an adverse reaction to the sclerosant, you can go home or even back to work right after the procedure. Some discomfort and irritation is normal after the treatment, so most people take the rest of the day off to rest. Your doctor may prescribe pain medication to help with the discomfort, but over-the-counter painkillers are usually all that’s needed. Throat sprays, cough drops, and tea with honey can help with soreness and irritation. Minor swelling is normal for a few days after the treatment, too.
You should have a follow-up appointment with your doctor after a few weeks to see if the treatment is working. Your doctor will examine the scar tissue and determine whether or not you’d benefit from another treatment. The more treatments you have, the more scar tissue will build up around your soft palate.
Dr. Rubinstein is one of the top ENT doctors in New York. He completed a prestigious fellowship at the University of South Florida, and he currently serves as an assistant professor at the New York-Presbyterian Hospital. Dr. Rubinstein founded the Hudson Valley Sinus Center and has more than 15 years of experience in private practice. He performs injection snoreplasty and other snoring and sinus treatments for patients throughout New York