Patient Care

PERFORMING THE PILLAR PROCEDURE: An Effective, First-Line Treatment for Sleep Apnea and Snoring

In addition to interrupted sleep and daytime fatigue, sleep apnea can lead to major health problems such as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Disruptive snoring also can contribute to conflict and stress for both sleep partners. Now there's a simple, minimally invasive option for treating mild obstructive sleep apnea and snoring.

Dr. Elliot Regenbogen, assistant professor of surgery (ENT), is experienced with using the newly developed Pillar procedure, a safe and effective method for treating mild sleep apnea and snoring. This new treatment is now among the innovative treatments he uses for this problem, in addition to more invasive treatments for moderate and severe cases of it.

— Less invasive and less painful than other surgical procedures
— Completed in a single office visit
— FDA-cleared and clinically proven, with results comparable to more aggressive surgical procedures
  Many patients soon report a noticeable, lasting reduction in mild obstructive sleep apnea and snoring. In long-term (one year) clinical studies, obstructive sleep apnea was reduced in nearly 80% of the patients; for patients suffering from disruptive snoring, bed partner satisfaction was as high as 90%. Patients also experienced less daytime sleepiness. More than 80% of clinical trial patients — and their partners — would recommend the Pillar procedure.

Unlike surgical treatments, the Pillar procedure is performed in a single office visit using local anesthetic, and is reversible. The procedure places three small inserts in the patient's soft palate located at the back of the roof of the mouth. The procedure stiffens the palate, preventing or lessening blockages of the airway — effectively treating mild obstructive sleep apnea and substantially reducing the intensity of snoring in most individuals.

The Procedure Itself

The Pillar implant addresses one of the anatomical components of sleep apnea and snoring: the soft palate. During the procedure, three tiny synthetic biocompatible inserts are placed in the soft palate to help reduce the vibration that causes snoring and the ability of the soft palate to obstruct the airway.

Once in place, the inserts add structural support to the soft palate. Over time, the body's natural tissue response to the inserts increases the structural integrity of the soft palate.

Pillar inserts are made of material used in implantable medical devices for more than 50 years. They are designed to be invisible, and should not be felt or interfere with swallowing or speech. Many patients resume normal diet and activities the same day they have the procedure. More than 30,000 people worldwide have been treated with the Pillar procedure.

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