More Evidence that Laser Treatment to Reduce Snoring Works

by | Jan 24, 2024 | Snoring / Sleep Apnea

Meet Jenny Chapman, who’s on the record as being the loudest snorer in the world, at 111.6 decibels – louder than a diesel truck or even a low-flying jet:

The average snore, on the other hand, is about 50 decibels. That’s about as noisy as a quiet conversation or a radio playing music in the background. Of course, if you’re a non-snorer sleeping with a chronic snorer, even that level can be a bigtime annoyance. It’s actually the number one reason why couples who sleep separately (especially older ones) choose to do so.

Snoring happens when the airway becomes partially blocked and inhaled air runs into that resistance, making a sound. Common sources of airway blockage include the lower jaw or tongue falling backward as the body relaxes, excess tissue around the top of the windpipe, an oversized uvula, and age-related loss of muscle tone.

And sometimes – but not always – snoring can be a sign of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), a serious, life-threatening condition that may also raise your risk of cardiometabolic and other systemic health problems.

What snoring is not is something that you just have to live with.

Fotona laserWe’ve blogged before about one of the snoring solutions we offer here in our Arlington office: NightLase. This procedure uses an Er:Yag laser to pulse heat into the soft tissues around the upper airway, tightening collagen and stimulating new growth so air can pass freely to the lungs. There’s no cutting involved, no suturing. There’s no pain. The laser and your body’s own renewal mechanisms do all the work over the course of two or three treatments.

Since our first post about NightLase, even more studies have been published, with results confirming that the procedure really works.

A 2022 study, for instance, involved 40 patients with snoring and mild OSA, no daytime sleepiness, and a BMI under 30. They were randomly split into two groups. One group of 20 (7 women and 13 men) underwent NightLase. The other group of 20 (5 women and 15 men) received sham laser treatment – though 5 patients from this group dropped out after the second treatment.

Surveys taken before and after treatment showed that snoring improved only for those who received NightLase. No change in survey scores were apparent for the placebo group.

For the first time, the effectiveness of NightLase was investigated in a prospective, placebo controlled study. We found that NightLase treatment was significantly more effective than sham laser treatment in reducing socially disturbing snoring. In addition, sleep-related health status from both patient and bed partner significantly improved, as assessed by the [Snore Outcomes Survey], and the [Spouse/Bed Partner Survey].

NightLase’s “efficacy is similar to that achieved with other more aggressive treatments,” the research team added.

A more recent study involved 24 patients with snoring problems due to soft palate hypertrophy. Each received a three-part series of Er:Yag laser treatments over the course of 6 weeks – one treatment every two weeks. Questionnaires and polygraph measures were taken three times: once at baseline, once at three months, and once four years after the final laser treatment. All but 4 patients returned for the final follow-up.

The significant improvement in subjective sleep outcomes observed 3 months after Er:YAG laser treatment was still significant 4 years after treatment. No significant improvement or deterioration in objective polygraph outcome measures was observed during the 4 years of follow-up in our study. No side effects of laser treatment were observed.

“The Er:YAG laser treatment,” the authors concluded, “presents a safe and well-tolerated snoring treatment alternative for patients with airway obstruction in the oropharynx with improvement in subjective sleep outcomes lasting up to 4 years.”

Of course, both of these are small studies, but both are in line with what earlier research has shown: When it comes to reducing snoring, NightLase works.

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