What is Somnoplasty?

Somnoplasty, a revolutionary surgical procedure, was developed by Somnus Medical Technologies in Sunnydale, California.

Somnoplasty is used not only to treat habitual snoring and mild to moderate OSA , but also chronic nasal congestion caused by enlarged turbinates, nasal blockage caused by deviated septum.

What are the different tissues involved in Somnoplasty?

Snoring is a result of several types of obstruction in the nasal passage. For example, when snoring is a result of excessive relaxation and vibration of the tissues at the back of the nose or throat, Somnoplasty is done at the level of the soft palate by shrinking and stiffening the tissues of this area. 

If snoring is caused by enlarged turbinates, then somnoplasty may be used to treat chronic nasal congestion and the turbinates are the prime focus of the operation. This significantly reduces the volume of the obstructing turbinates.

Somnoplasty can also be used to treat sleep apnea – a condition where breathing stops temporarily while asleep, due to severe blockage in the air passage. Here the tissues involved are those at the back of the mouth, throat and the nose. The tissues located in the upper air passage are shrunk and the airway cleared. 

What is Radio Frequency Ablation (RFA)?

Radio Frequency Ablation or RFA has emerged to be one of the most accepted medical procedures in the past 15 years. The term ‘ablation’ means cutting or removal. It involves ablation of dysfunctional tissues using high frequency current, to treat a disease condition.

The biggest advantage of the RFA is that it does not unnecessarily stimulate any nerve or muscles of the heart. Therefore, it can be used without the need of any general anesthetic.

How does Somnoplasty work?

Essentially, Somnoplasty procedure uses low levels of radiofrequency thermal energy on the relevant sections of the uvula or the soft palate with the aim of freeing the air passage of any obstruction.

Depending on the nature of the obstruction, the tongue, throat or the soft palate could be pierced with a sterilized, single-use disposable needle, called the electrode. This is further connected to a low-intensity radiofrequency heat generator.

The heat energy creates very small burn areas in the sections where it has been applied. However, over 4 to 6 weeks these get re-absorbed by the body. This in effect, reduces the volume of tissues, as well as renders them stiff, so that snoring is substantially reduced or eliminated.

While the burning causes the inner tissues attached to the concerned obstructive muscle to shrink, the tissues located on the outside (and may contain taste buds, etc) are left untouched.

Watch a Somnoplasty Animation movie.

How long does it take for Somnoplasty to be completed?

This simple and non-invasive surgical intervention uses only local anesthesia and is done at the doctors’ office. While one session of somnoplasty may take less than 30 minutes, you may need more than one session, depending on the severity of snoring, to get the desired results. The second session is usually arranged after 6 to 8 weeks of the first procedure.

Will Somnoplasty cause me any pain?

No matter what kind of surgery you opt for, it is bound to involve some amount of pain and risks. Unlike other surgical procedures though, somnoplasty is relatively less painful, though there are chances of some minor swelling and an uncomfortable feeling immediately after the procedure.


Additional information