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Guide: Pillar Procedure for OSA

Guide: Pillar Procedure for OSA

You might have heard about pillar procure until now, but if you aren’t familiar with this procedure, there are a number this you should know. The pillar procedure is a minor surgery that helps relieve snoring and treat mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea.

Hence, this procedure helps alleviate habitual snoring, as well as, OSA which is a potentially serious disorder where breathing is repeatedly interrupted during sleep. Both these conditions usually occur as a result of a relaxation of muscles at the back of your throat.

The pillar procedure is usually performed in the doctor’s office and patients are given local anesthesia. The procedure includes surgically placing small polyester rods in the soft palate. The implants are 18 mm in length and 1.5 mm in diameter.

After the procedure, the tissue around the implants heals and stiffens the soft palate. As a result, it reduces both the vibration and relaxation of the tissue and thus, prevents snoring.

Reasons for the Pillar Procedure

The pillar procedure helps relieve snoring and alleviate the symptoms of mild to moderate obstructive sleep apnea. However, if you have mild OSA, your doctor might want first to try with a less invasive treatment, such as continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP).

CPAP helps prevent the blockage of airflow and it’s a very useful machine that helps put your condition under control. Some patients need to use CPAP besides going through a pillar procedure.
The pillar procedure might not be the best method for you if you have severe obstructive sleep apnea or if you’re overweight or obese.

Snoring is usually caused when the muscles in the fleshy area at the back of your mouth (soft palate and in your throat and tongue relax. This is a serious condition that can have a very negative impact on your life and can indicate a more serious health issue.

On the other hand, people who have OSA might experience sudden drops in the amount of oxygen in their blood. Moreover, they’re more likely to deal with some series of health conditions, including hypertension and heart disease. Some of the most common symptoms of OSA include choking and gasping for air, morning headache, restless sleep, daytime sleepiness, and frequent awakening.

Pillar Procedure Risks

The pillar procedure comes with some risks and complications that patients should be aware of. One of the most common complications that was reported is a partial extrusion of the implant. In fact, it sometimes happens that the tip of the implant protrudes through the soft palate tissue. When this happens, doctors usually recommend that it is replaced or completely removed.

Other potential but less serious complications include sore throat, difficulty swallowing and feeling a foreign body. However, these symptoms usually go on their own in 1-2 weeks after the procedure. Last but not least, infection is another possible complication, but it comes as a risk with any surgical procedure. Thus, if you develop a fever after the procedure, contact your doctor immediately.

Steps to Prepare for the Procedure

There are no specific steps for you to prepare for this procedure. It might only happen that the doctor prescribes antibiotics before your appointment.

During the Procedure

This procedure takes place at the surgeon’s office and it usually lasts for no more than 30 minutes. You will be asked to sit backward while the surgeon will:
Apply a topical anesthetic to the soft palate to numb the area
Inject a local anesthetic, which may sting
Position the first implant and then insert it
Repeats the last two steps two more times

After the Procedure

You will be asked to sit still for several minutes so that your doctor will assure there is no bleeding or swelling happening. Moreover, you might get some anti-inflammatory pain medications to reduce the swelling and any pain you might feel after the anesthetic wears off. In many cases, patients are asked the use an antiseptic rinse for several days and take an antibiotic to prevent infection after the pillar procedure.

There have been many cases where this procedure has helped stop snoring and ease the symptoms of obstructive sleep apnea. However, it’s important to remember that this isn’t a rule that applies to everyone. Likewise, it might take a few months to get the full effect of the implants.

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