What is Obstructive Sleep Apnea?

Obstructive sleep apnea is diagnosed when loud snoring is interrupted by episodes of completely obstructed breathing. This condition can be serious and sometime fatal if these episodes are severe. The cumulative effect of these obstructed breathing episodes is reduced blood oxygen levels to the brain, forcing the snorer to stay in a lighter sleep stage so that the breathing passage muscles are kept tighter. This prevents the snorer from obtaining the rest benefit achieved only during deep sleep, and can lead to a tendency to fall asleep during daytime hours, on the job, or worse, behind the wheel of a car. Other prominent symptoms of sleep apnea are recurrent morning headaches, a constant ringing of the ears, trouble concentrating, and even heart attack and stroke at an early age.


What is the Laser Treatment of Snoring?

Laser treatment for snoring, also known as LAUP (Laser Assisted UvuloPalatoplasty), is a quick and effective method to treat snoring without significant anesthesia or “down-time.” The patient is treated right in the doctor’s office-sitting upright and fully awake in a comfortable chair. After local anesthesia (Lidocaine) is applied, the laser is used to trim and reshape the soft palate and uvula. Sometimes, more than one session is required to reach an optimal result.


What are the Advantages of Laser Treatment?

This treatment involves less pain than more invasive procedures that remove the tonsils and vigorously reshape the soft palate, such as UPPP (Uvulopalatopharyngoplasty), with little risk of bleeding. Eating and speaking are not significantly affected, but a sore throat lasting 7-10 days is common. Patients may go right back to their normal activity. The vast majority of treated patients and their partners notice significant reduction or elimination of snoring after the procedure has healed in a few days to weeks.


How Do I know if these Treatments are Right for Me?

The initial consultation with your doctor will include an examination to determine whether laser treatment for snoring is indicated. Many times, a Sleep Study will be scheduled to determine if severe Sleep Apnea is present, which may require alternative therapies such as CPAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure). CPAP involves using a small machine that eliminates snoring and sleep apnea by providing pressurized air through a mask usually worn over the nose.


Will Insurance Cover the Cost of Treatment?

While CPAP and UPPP performed in a hospital setting for sleep apnea is often covered, most insurance carriers do not currently reimburse for the treatment of snoring in the office. Diagnosis of obstructive sleep apnea as documented by a Sleep Study (polysomnography) is usually covered. We can assist you in checking with your insurance carrier for information about your specific benefits.


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