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How does laser surgery stop snoring?

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Laser surgery for snoring involving trimming tissue in the throat to create a larger space for air flow, according to the Encyclopedia of Surgery. In laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasty, the surgeon uses a laser to remove part of the uvula, the triangular piece of tissue that hangs in the back of the throat.

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Laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasy is performed on an outpatient basis. It usually requires three to five separate treatments spaced over several weeks, reports Encyclopedia of Surgery. During the procedure, the patient's throat is sprayed with a numbing anesthetic. The surgeon then excises portions of the uvula, soft palate and tonsils using a laser.

Due to the severe pain suffered by many patients who undergo uvulopalatoplasy, some physicians recommend alternative procedures such as somnoplasty. During this procedure, the surgeon reduces the volume of throat tissue by using a needle guided by radiofrequency heat, explains MedicineNet. The tool is used to burn away sections of excess tissue. Recovery from somnoplasty is usually much quicker than laser-assisted uvulopalatoplasy.

Benefits from the procedure, however, can be fairly short term. In some cases, snoring returns in less than a year, reports MedicineNet. In addition, the procedure is not effective in treating sleep apnea, a potentially serious condition that affects many snoring sufferers.

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