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    Radiofrequency Palatoplasty for Snoring

    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 camera.gif). 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 Surgery

    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.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.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.

    Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.

    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.

    ByHealthwise Staff
    Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
    Specialist Medical ReviewerMark A. Rasmus, MD - Pulmonology, Critical Care Medicine, Sleep Medicine

    Current as ofSeptember 9, 2014

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: September 09, 2014
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.

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