Hillman tells WebMD that the procedure is "simple and quick." It's usually accomplished in minutes under local anesthesia. "Postoperative side effects are minimal. There is little pain," he says. What pain exists is easily controlled with simple pain relievers, and speech and swallowing "are not affected to any significant degree." The patients were able to return to work the same day.
Eighteen of the 20 patients reported a "subjective improvement" in their snoring after eight weeks of follow-up, Hillman says. Eight of the patients described more than a 50% reduction in their snoring. Mouth ulcers did form after three treatments, but they did not affect the outcome and healed within a few days.
Jeffrey Spiro, MD, has been working with the device for about six months, and says he needs more follow-up for a more "scholarly" opinion on the procedure. Still, Spiro was familiar with the Australian study and says they used single-spot treatment, whereas the manufacturer-recommended treatment involves creating three lesions during each of two different visits. Following this method, some studies in the U.S. have shown better results than those in the Australian study.
"The more general experience would suggest that probably 70% to 80% of people after two treatments will have significant improvement. We're not saying complete elimination, but significant improvement," Spiro tells WebMD. Spiro is a professor of surgery in the division of otolaryngology at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.
"It's not that hard to do, it's very well tolerated. The issue is, does it really work?" asks Spiro. "And I guess the bottom line is: if you really pick out the right people carefully, then there's no reason why I would expect you can't duplicate some of the earlier results that have been published, at least in this country," Spiro says.
Hillman says the findings in his study justify more study and explains that the procedure may not work the same for everyone. "In most patients, snoring was substantially reduced, rather than eliminated. Persistent snoring despite treatment relates at least in part to the fact that not all snoring results from vibration of the soft palate: vibration of other parts of the throat can contribute to the snoring noise," Hillman tells WebMD.