Snoring – The Pillar Procedure

Stop Snoring Today!

If snoring is keeping you awake, it's time to take action. Whether you are the one snoring or the one seeking refuge elsewhere, you know that a night of snoring means a night of interrupted sleep.

For many, snoring is caused by the vibration of tissue in the back of the mouth and the throat. During sleep, this tissue stretches and droops, thus reducing the size of the airway and obstructing breathing. Researchers that found they could diminish this vibration and obstruction by increasing the rigidity of the soft palate (roof of the mouth). The procedure developed, called the Pillar Procedure, is performed by Dr. Brian J Dorfman at The Center For Oral & Facial Surgery At Anthem.


Pillar Procedure

The Pillar Procedure
Performed in the office, the Pillar Procedure involves implanting three small, woven inserts into the soft palate. These implants stiffen and support the soft palate and keep it from drooping during sleep. No drooping means no vibration, and no vibration means drastically reduced snoring or no snoring at all.
Reprinted with permission of Medtronic, Inc. All rights reserved.

The implants are approximately 3/4" long and are made of a polyester-type material that has been used safely in sutures and implants for over 50 years. The implants are designed to be invisible and don't interfere with speaking or swallowing. Most patients notice a significant improvement in their sleep in four to six weeks.

The Pillar Procedure is a simple, effective treatment for sleep apnea and snoring.

The Pillar Procedure is:
  • Less invasive and less painful than other surgical procedures
  • Completed in a single, short office visit
  • FDA-cleared and clinically proven, with results comparable to more aggressive surgical procedures


Most patients soon report a drastic reduction in snoring. In clinical studies, almost 80% of patients' sleep apnea was reduced. Patients also experienced less daytime sleepiness.

The Pillar Procedure addresses one of the anatomical components of sleep apnea and snoring: the Soft Palate

During the Pillar Procedure, Dr. Dorfman places 3-5 tiny woven implants (see picture above) in the soft palate to help reduce the vibration that causes snoring and the ability of the soft palate to obstruct the airway. Once in place, the implants add structural support to the soft palate and, over time, the body's natural tissue response to the inserts increases the structural integrity of the soft palate.

Pillar implants are made of material safely used in implantable medical devices and sutures for over 50 years. They are designed to be invisible, and should not be felt or interfere with swallowing or speech. Most patients resume normal diet and activities the same day.

Call for an appointment to stop snoring today – (623) 551-6556

What Causes Snoring?

The noisy sounds of snoring occur when there is an obstruction to the free flow of air through the passages at the back of the mouth and nose. This area is the collapsible part of the airway where the tongue and upper throat meet the soft palate and uvula. Snoring occurs when these structures strike each other and vibrate during breathing.

Forty-five percent of normal adults snore at least occasionally, and 25 percent are habitual snorers. Problem snoring is more frequent in males and those who are overweight, and it usually grows worse with age.

Snoring is often worse when a person sleeps on his back. Some devices reposition the lower jaw forward; some open nasal air passages; a few others have been designed to condition a person not to snore by producing unpleasant stimuli when snoring occurs.

Is Snoring Serious?

Snoring is socially and medically serious
Yes, both socially and medically. Snoring can cause embarrassment and disrupt the sleep of loved ones, many of whom choose to sleep separately from their partner. This can cause immense strain on a relationship.

But snoring is also a medical issue, because it disturbs sleeping patterns and deprives the snorer of appropriate rest. When snoring is severe, it can cause serious, long-term health problems, including obstructive sleep apnea.

Obstructive Sleep Apnea

When loud snoring is interrupted by episodes of obstructed breathing, it is known as obstructive sleep apnea. Serious episodes last more than ten seconds each and occur more than seven times per hour. Apnea patients may experience more than 100 such events per hour. These episodes can reduce blood oxygen levels, causing the heart to pump harder.

The immediate effect of sleep apnea is that the snorer must sleep lightly and keep his muscles tense in order to maintain airflow to the lungs. Because the snorer does not get a good rest, he may be sleepy during the day, which can impair job performance and make him a hazardous driver or equipment operator. After many years with this disorder, elevated blood pressure and heart enlargement may occur.

People Who Snore May Suffer From:

  • Poor muscle tone in the tongue and throat When muscles are too relaxed, either from alcohol or drugs that cause sleepiness, the tongue falls backwards into the airway or the throat muscles draw in from the sides into the airway. This can also happen during deep sleep.

  • Excessive bulkiness of throat tissue Children with large tonsils and adenoids often snore. Overweight people have bulky neck tissue, too. Cysts or tumors can also cause bulk, but they are rare.

  • Long soft palate and/or uvula A long palate narrows the opening from the nose into the throat. As it dangles, it acts as a noisy flutter valve during relaxed breathing. A long uvula makes matters even worse.

  • Obstructed nasal airways A stuffy or blocked nose requires extra effort to pull air through it. This creates an exaggerated vacuum in the throat, and pulls together the floppy tissues of the throat, and snoring results. So, snoring often occurs only during the hay fever season or with a cold or sinus infection.

  • Deformities of the nose or nasal septum such as a deviated septum (a deformity of the wall that separates one nostril from the other) can cause such an obstruction.

Can Heavy Snoring be Cured?

Heavy snorers, those who snore in any position or are disruptive to the family, should seek medical advice to ensure that sleep apnea is not a problem. Dr. Dorfman will provide a thorough examination of the nose, mouth, throat, palate, and neck. A sleep study (either in a laboratory environment or at home) may be necessary to determine how serious the snoring is and to determine if the patient has sleep apnea.

Self-Help for the Light Snorer

Adults who suffer from mild or occasional snoring should try the following self-help remedies:
  • Adopt a healthy and athletic lifestyle to develop good muscle tone and lose weight.
  • Avoid tranquilizers, sleeping pills, and antihistamines before bedtime.
  • Avoid alcohol for at least four hours and heavy meals or snacks for three hours before retiring.
  • Establish regular sleeping patterns
  • Sleep on your side rather than your back.
  • Tilt the head of your bed upwards four inches

Harmless Habit or Serious Disorder?

Snoring can be a harmless habit or an indication of a serious sleep disorder. This short quiz can help you to determine if you have a sleep problem that could be evaluated by Dr. Dorfman.

Answer the questions by choosing the number that most appropriately describes your situation:
1 – Never
2 – Very Infrequently
3 – Occasionally
4 – Often
5 – Always or Almost Always
  1. How often have you been told you snore?
  2. Does your snoring disturb your bed partner?
  3. Does your snoring disturb others in the next room?
  4. Has your snoring progressively worsened?
  5. Do you snore when you sleep on your back?
  6. Do you snore when you sleep in all positions?
  7. Have you been told that you stop breathing for long periods between snores?
  8. Has your snoring ever caused you to wake up suddenly?
  9. Does your bedroom partner leave the room to sleep elsewhere because of your snoring?
  10. Has your snoring caused you social embarrassment on vacations, at conferences or while staying in hotels?

Your Snore Score
A score of 3 or higher on questions 1 through 4 indicates that your snoring almost certainly interferes with your personal life.
A score of 3 or higher on questions 4, 7 and 8 indicates there's a likelihood you experience apnea during sleep. You should consult with your physician.
Your answer to question 5 may indicate that your snoring is probably due to the effect of gravity on the tissues of your upper airway rather than to any basic anatomical obstruction. You are what is called a "positional snorer". Remedies that encourage you to sleep on your side or stomach may be sufficient.
If you scored 4 or higher on question 6, your snoring is most likely the result of a physical obstruction.
A score of 3 or higher on all questions indicates that apnea is very likely. You should consult with Dr. Dorfman and have a sleep study performed to evaluate your sleep and snoring.

Oral Appliances

Oral Appliances are dental devices used to treat snoring and sleep apnea. They are worn in the mouth while sleeping and work by pulling the lower jaw forward. This action pulls the tongue forward. These devices can be quite effective in treating problem snoring and mild sleep apnea.

Frustrated with CPAP and other surgical options?

If you've been diagnosed with Obstructive Sleep Apnea, or are frustrated with CPAP treatment, ask Dr. Dorfman about the Pillar Procedure. Success with the Pillar Procedure can be influenced by tongue position, tonsil size and other factors. To determine whether this treatment is right for you, contact us to schedule a consultation.