What is the Pillar Procedure?
It's a simple, effective, first-line treatment for obstructive sleep apnea and socially disruptive snoring. Known by the medical term "palatal restoration," the procedure only takes a single, brief visit to the physician’s office. After first numbing the area with a local anesthetic, your physician embeds three tiny inserts in your soft palate using a specially designed delivery tool. The inserts cause a stiffening effect in the palate tissue to prevent vibration (snoring) and obstruction of the airway during sleep.
How does the treatment work?
As throat muscles relax during sleep, unsupported tissues in the back of the mouth and the throat may stretch and collapse. This reduces the size of the airway and obstructs breathing. It can also cause the soft palate to vibrate or undulate, causing snoring. Studies estimate that nearly 80% of all sleep apnea and snoring may be caused either entirely or in part by the soft palate. The inserts stiffen the soft palate, reducing its vibration and ability to obstruct the airway during sleep.
Is it painful?
Because tissue is not removed or damaged, discomfort is minimal. Some patients use an over-the-counter pain reliever after the procedure and most are able to resume normal activities and diet the same day.
How long does the procedure take?
It takes one, short visit to the physician’s office.
How does the Pillar Procedure differ from other treatments?
- Simple treatment: The treatment is done in one brief office visit. Other treatments require a series of visits or an operating room procedure.
- Minimal discomfort: Palatal restoration does not require chemical agents, heating or removing tissue. Most patients resume normal diet and activities the same day.
- Results: Most patients report a noticeable improvement within 4 to 6 weeks. The implant is designed to be permanent so it has a potentially lasting effect.
How do I know if the Pillar Procedure will work for me?
Success can be influenced by tongue position, tonsil size and other factors. Your doctor will do a physical exam to determine if your palate is the likely cause of your sleep apnea or snoring and if you are a good candidate for the Pillar Procedure.
What kind of results can I expect?
Most patients experience an improvement within 4 to 6 weeks with a noticeable and lasting reduction in snoring. In nearly 80% of patients, the severity of sleep apnea was reduced. More than 80% of sleep apnea patients—and their bed partners—would recommend the Pillar Procedure.
How long does the effect last? Is it permanent?
The inserts are designed to be permanent and the effect of the treatment long-lasting because of the effect of fibrosis. This natural tissue response stiffens the palate and changes its response to airflow. Our clinical studies show that patient and sleep partner satisfaction with the procedure remain high after one year.
How are the inserts placed in the soft palate?
Each patient receives three Pillar inserts. The inserts are preloaded into a specially designed delivery tool. Each insert and its delivery tool are provided in a sterile package to the physician. To place each insert, the physician inserts the delivery tool into the soft palate. The Pillar insert is left embedded in the soft palate tissue and the delivery tool is removed. The palate tissue is not cut or removed.
How big is the insert? What does it look like?
Each highly engineered, tiny woven Pillar insert is approximately 18 mm (0.7 inches) in length and has an outer diameter of approximately 2 mm (0.08 inches). The inserts are woven from a polyester material that has been used for more than 50 years in implantable medical products.
Will I notice the inserts in my palate?
You will not see the inserts in your palate. A small percentage of patients report feeling a minor foreign body sensation after the procedure. This sensation is temporary.
Will there be any change in my voice or will I have any difficulty swallowing?
Physicians have not reported that patients have experienced any long-term changes in voice or difficulty swallowing.
What kind of complications have you seen?
Since the procedure does not involve removing or damaging tissue, the risk of complication is extremely low. There have been no reported major adverse events. Minor complications have consisted of partial extrusions that have been readily resolved by the physician simply removing the insert. A partial extrusion occurs when the tip of the insert can be felt or seen through the surface of the palate tissue. Most patients request to have the insert replaced because they were pleased with the results. Since launching the product in the United States, there have been fewer than 1% reported partial extrusions.
Can the inserts be removed?
Yes. An insert can be removed in the physician’s office with no special surgical tools. A patient can also have a new insert placed at the time of removal.
How many people are affected by sleep apnea and disruptive snoring?
It is estimated that more than 40 million Americans suffer from some form of sleep-disordered breathing. Of these, more than 12 million suffer from some form of sleep apnea.
What are the risks if I choose not to have my sleep apnea treated?
Because of the serious disturbances in their normal sleep patterns, people with sleep apnea often feel very sleepy during the day and their concentration and daytime performance suffer. The consequences of untreated sleep apnea range from annoying to life-threatening. Symptoms include: depression, irritability, sexual dysfunction, learning and memory difficulties, and falling asleep while at work, on the phone, or driving. Untreated sleep apnea patients are at least three times more likely to have automobile accidents. Additionally, it has been estimated that up to 50% of sleep apnea patients have high blood pressure. Risk for heart attack and stroke may also increase in those with sleep apnea.