By Dr. Angela Shelton
National Institutes of Health data show that almost 30% of all males and almost 10% of all females snore while sleeping. Of those who snore, the majority have some degree of a condition called Obstructive Sleep Apnea. What does this mean? It means that many of us are NOT getting a good night’s sleep! But a new laser treatment called NightLase® may be able to give snorers (and their partners) more restful nights.
Snoring and Sleep Apnea Complications
National Sleep Awareness Week happens in March, to highlight how an untreated lack of sleep can have life-changing consequences, including:
• Poor concentration and attention;
• Increased risk of stroke, heart attack and heart irregularities;
• High blood pressure, headaches, and depression;
• Relationship issues, irritability, and addictive behaviors;
• Increased risk of cognitive impairment and Alzheimer’s Disease;
• Weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes, all of which worsen the sleep issues.
Snoring and sleep apnea can happen at any age. They can be hereditary but are also worsened by weight gain, aging, alcohol and other sedatives. During sleep, the airway relaxes and closes, temporarily blocking the airway. When the airway is partially blocked, snoring results. Often, the airway becomes completely blocked until the person awakens to take a few breaths. This can occur repeatedly throughout the night.
Treatment of snoring and sleep apnea can save a person’s life, health, and relationship. In the past, the most common treatments were surgery to open the airway, and the use of a device which uses air pressure to keep the airway open. Surgery involves downtime and pain and is not always successful. Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) devices are the gold standard for obstructive sleep apnea, but they may be difficult to tolerate. This can have dire health consequences.
NightLase®—a simple, non-invasive treatment option
The latest technology advancement in treating snoring and sleep apnea is a laser procedure called NightLase®, a fast, non-invasive way of improving the quality of a patient’s sleep. NightLase® decreases snoring, and reduces the severity of sleep apnea. No anesthesia is needed in the treatment. The laser treatment, available in our region only at Changes Medical Spa & Laser Center, opens the airway by shrinking and tightening surrounding tissues and stimulating the production of new collagen to make the tissues healthier and more resilient.
Richard Jackson, MD, Medical Director at Changes, performs the NightLase® procedure. “When we heard about the benefits of this laser technique, we immediately knew we needed to offer it. The procedure is fast and comfortable, and the effects are long lasting. Our NightLase® patients have been happy with their results. Their spouses frequently thank us for the results, as their sleep has improved as well.” The procedure is done in the office, and involves no surgery or downtime.
Three treatments provide the best result. At $600 per treatment, NightLase® is affordable for most patients, and many patients use their health care savings account or flexible benefit plan to pay for the procedure.
For a free consultation to learn more about the procedure, call Changes Medical Spa & Laser Center at 423-328-0488.
Reggie White and Sleep Apnea,
A Personal Remembrance
UT and NFL standout Reggie White was a victim of severe obstructive sleep apnea. He died in his sleep at the age of 43. Reportedly, his CPAP settings were uncomfortable, so he did not use it. Reggie was the gentlest, most respectful – and largest!- student I taught in my almost 20 years at UT. His service to the community was boundless. He volunteered at a group home for my course, and I discovered years later that he had continued to visit and support that home for young men. When Dr. Jackson and I heard about the development of the NightLase® procedure, Reggie immediately came to mind. While his sleep apnea was too severe to cure with a NightLase® procedure, a person like him could possibly get enough benefit to be able to lower their CPAP setting to a more tolerable level, and not risk health and life. Every time we do a NightLase® treatment, we remember Reggie.