If you suffer from sleep apnea, you’re not alone. In fact, according to Dr. Lee Mandel, the director of the South Florida Sinus and Allergy Center, sleep apnea is a common problem with serious health implications.
"Sleep apnea is pretty pervasive. It's about 1 in 50 people have sleep apnea in this country and about 500, 000 people are undiagnosed. About 100, 000 car accidents from sleep apnea, 1,500 of those end up in death per year. Furthermore, about 38,000 people a year die from the cardiac effects of having sleep apnea. So it's very pervasive, things like coronary artery disease, stroke, central obesity, diabetes, fatigue, irritability, these are all side effects of sleep apnea," said Dr. Mandel.
Dr. Mandel has created a procedure called MIPS, designed to help patients with obstructive sleep apnea caused by a soft palate or over-extended uvula.
"So it's a minimally invasive palatal stiffening procedure. The previous procedures that were done for sleep apnea really concentrated around cutting out the palate, essentially large parts of the palate. There are more complicated procedures but there's at least a 50 percent failure rate in those procedures. They typically take a long time to do and patients had a long recovery from them. I set out to defies a way to provide a procedure that would stiffen and shorten palate with minimal down time and using the palates own natural ability to heal, to force it to contact up, " said Mandel.
The procedure takes three minutes and is performed under IV sedation. And here’s how it works.
"So usually what happens with the palate, is the palate is too long and the uvula-the little dangly thing in the back of your throat is also too long and too large. The first thing we do, is trim the uvula. Then we take a small contact dialed laser and we make a controlled abrasion at the center of the palette. We then make a couple passes with that contact-dialed laser under the lining of the palate on either side. As that heals, it pulls the palate up and in and contracts it," said Mandel.
The procedure has been incredibly effective for Dr. Mandel’s patients.
"For an hour experience, it's been about an 85 percent effectiveness rating in terms of keep people from needing to be on CPAP, which is the mask that everyone here is about, the continuous airway pressure mask. The other 15 percent are always improved. There's virtually a 100 percent improvement rate but it in terms of keeping people off of CPAP, about 85 percent," said Mandel.
Aside from a sore throat that lasts roughly a week, patients experience minimal postoperative discomfort. If you think you may be a candidate, and want more information, you can reach Dr. Mandel at southfloridasinusandallergy.com or southfloridasnoringandsleep.com or call (954) 983-1211.