Wednesday, April 21, 1999 Published at 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Surgeon hails snoring cure
The operation is less invasive than traditional surgery
An operation to cure snoring is to be made widely available to the public in the UK for the first time.
The surgical procedure, known as a somnoplasty, has been clinically trialed in the UK by the ear, nose and throat consultant Mr David Morgan.
Somnoplasty works by heating the tissues of the soft palate to around 80 degrees centigrade using radio energy.
There are four main factors which are thought to cause snoring:
Somnoplasty is a cure for those who suffer from slack throat musculature.
Somnoplasty takes up to 30 minutes under local or general anaesthesia and delivers low power, low temperature radio frequency energy to the tissue beneath the surface of the soft palate.
Over the next four to six weeks the treated tissue reduces in volume as the heated cells die and are removed by the immune sysem.
Mr Morgan believes somnoplasty will prove a better alternative to the traditional treatment, laser uvolopapalatoplasty.
While uvolopapalatoplasty actually burns the skin of the soft palate, somnoplasty heats only the surrounding tissue and causes only minor discomfort.
However, Mr Morgan warned that surgery should only be considered as a last resort.
He said: "There are several things you can do before that. The most important thing being losing weight, the other factors that are important are stopping smoking and also stopping drinking alcohol prior to going to bed at night."
Quality of life impaired
The first patient to receive the treatment at the Nuffield Hospital will be Glen Williams.
"My wife, Dawn, says that I am impossible to ignore in bed, but for the wrong reasons.
"She used to wake me up and banish me to the spare room because my snoring was too loud, but now I wake myself up with it and just go without being asked."
Around 3.5 million people in the UK are estimated to snore, including more than one million women.
Snorers who wake themselves up with the noise sleep only an average of four hours a night.
Snorers can generate a noise of 90 decibels.
Somnoplasty is featured on Tomorrow's World, broadcast on BBC One on Wednesday 22 April. 19 00 BST.