The Pillar Procedure for Snoring

If you have ever done much reading or studying about stop-snoring methods or treatments, then you have likely heard of the Pillar Procedure. The Pillar Procedure is one of the most-talked-about stop-snoring surgeries in existence… but it is also hailed as one of the most effective.

It has actually been around for longer than most people realize… though as of late, it has gotten a lot more mainstream attention.

Snoring surgeries have a mixed reputation in the field of snoring remedies, however. On one hand, they are capable of helping some people to stop snoring forever. They can provide a one-time fix that might end some cases of snoring, which can save time, money, hassle, embarrassment, and trouble in the long run.

But… the downside is that snoring surgeries do not always work. Sometimes they don’t completely solve the snoring problem. And if this is the case, you might be out of pocket the cash for the procedure (unless you can get insurance to pay for it) without any noticeable benefits.

Here is some information about the Pillar Procedure that you might want to know if you are thinking about getting it done.

How Does The Pillar Procedure Work?

The Pillar Procedure is known as a ‘safe and effective treatment designed to help you stop snoring.’ (As described on pillarprocedure.com)

This procedure basically involves having tiny implants inserted into the soft palate. These implants are like small rods, and they basically help to ‘stiffen’ the tissues in the airway. This helps to treat the root cause of most cases of snoring… soft palate vibration.

How Does Pillar Procedure Work

The procedure is very easy to perform, actually… and only takes about 20 minutes. It can even be performed using only local anesthetic… so you can be in and out, and immediately start to enjoy the benefits of better sleep.

There have been a lot of clinical studies done on the procedure, and there is a pretty solid history of patients experiencing a significant decrease in their snoring intensity after getting it done.

People who are interested in getting the procedure done generally go to a specialist to have their soft palate examined, to see if they are a good candidate for the surgery. The surgery is minimally invasive, but they still need to be cleared before getting it done.

It is designed to help stop snoring, but it can also be used in some instances to treat mild to moderate sleep apnea. Of course, the only way to know for sure if the procedure may be a good choice for you is to discuss it with your doctor.

Do We Believe That This Method Works?

We have some mixed feelings about the Pillar Procedure. First of all, we absolutely cannot deny that it does have some pretty attractive clinical trial results… and we also know that a lot of people have really good experiences with it. We also know that it is pretty minimally invasive, as far as surgeries go… so that is also a plus.

The treatment was approved by Health Canada back in 2006, giving Canadians access to the FDA approved treatment… and ever since, it has been helping people to overcome their snoring problems. It can even be used to treat obstructive sleep apnea, in some cases… so that is another good thing about it.

We do feel like this could be a good option for some, but it is important to get your doctor’s approval before you start looking into it. Only your physician can tell you if you are a good candidate for the procedure, and this is an important conversation to have… because not everyone is well-suited to it.

The Positives

Here are the basic upsides for those looking into the procedure…

  • It can provide a basically permanent solution to snoring problems
  • In some cases, it can be obtained free of charge
  • It has a very good track record
  • It is minimally invasive as far as surgical procedures go

The Negatives

Here are some of the downsides to the procedure…

  • It can be an expensive option in some cases
  • Not everyone is a good candidate for it
  • Even if you get it, there is not necessarily a guarantee that it will work
  • For some people, other remedies might actually work better

Who Should Try This Treatment?

If you suffer from pretty severe snoring or sleep apnea, and are interested in a one-time fix that could permanently help to control the problem, then the Pillar Procedure may be right for you. There are other factors that can also determine if you are a good candidate or not – but these are better left up to your physician to decide.

If your doctor approves it, then you can move forward with it. If not… then rest assured that there is likely a good reason for it, and that you might want to pursue some different snoring remedies in the interim – as it is still very important to treat your symptoms, so that you can continue to sleep well during the night.

A lot of people underestimate their snoring problems, especially in the wake of not getting approved for a surgical procedure. But don’t make this mistake! Even if you don’t end up getting the procedure, you should still do everything you can to seek out treatment for your snoring problems.

Who Should Avoid This Type Of Product?

Figuring out whether or not you are a good candidate for the Pillar Procedure basically involves an examination of the causes for your snoring problem, and an examination of your soft palate. If your doctor determines that your upper airway/soft palate is causing your snoring problems, then he/she will likely approve you for the procedure.

If not, then the procedure would likely not benefit you anyway – and thus, would not be worth it.

People who suffer from severe Obstructive Sleep Apnea are usually not good candidates for this surgery either. For such OSA sufferers, CPAP is usually the gold-standard for treatment.

Is The Pillar Procedure Clinically Tested?

Clinical evidence is a must when dealing with any type of surgery. But thankfully, the Pillar Procedure has actually garnered quite a reputation for itself in such trials. On the official Pillar Procedure website, you can find quite a bit of clinical trial information about it to help answer questions about how well it has been shown to work. Here are some of the most notable statistics.

  • Patients who get this procedure tend to show a decrease in snoring intensity
  • 80% or more bed-partners of treated snorers show increased levels of satisfaction after the procedure
  • About 80% of treated patients showed a marked reduction in their AHI
  • These results were sustained at a year after the procedure, giving plenty of reason to believe that the effects are at least long-term, if not permanent
  • Patients who got the procedure showed significantly reduced incidences of daytime sleepiness. They also showed significant improvements in lifestyle quality.

What Makes This Procedure Different From Other Anti-Snoring Methods?

The biggest difference between the Pillar Procedure and other anti-snoring methods is that this procedure is actually a lot less-invasive in the long-run. Of course, you need to make a trip to a treatment center to get the procedure done… but after that, you should be good-to-go without being required to use any other devices or treatments.

The Pillar Procedure is even reversible if it needs to be. Since the entire procedure revolves around having the rods implanted into the lining of the upper airway, they can easily be removed if a doctor deems it necessary.

Another thing that makes the Pillar Procedure different from other anti-snoring surgeries is that it is very quick and flexible. It is done in one visit, heals quickly, and also leaves room for other procedures to be done if needed. It is just a very flexible, minimally-invasive procedure that really tends to work for a lot of people.

How Long Does it Take to Notice a Difference After Getting the Pillar Procedure?

A lot of patients notice a difference within weeks. For others, it can take months to notice the first tell-tale signs of snoring improvement. Approximately 80% of snorers have been shown to see positive results after having the procedure done… which is definitely a good sign.

There have also been a number of studies conducted that have backed-up the claims that the procedure lasts long-term. In one study, called Long Term Results of Pillar Implant Procedure, it was concluded that… “Pillar implant is an efficient, reliable method in the long-term; however, it should be considered that it could cause complaints such as dysphagia, foreign body sensation, and mouth dryness.”

Obviously, results vary a bit by person. But as a general rule, most people are said to see positive results in less than 3 month’s time.

Are There Any Negative Clinical Trial Results for the Pillar Procedure?

As good as this procedure looks from most perspectives, there are some chinks in its armor. This article, published by SleepReviewMag.com, does a good job of showing discrepancies between studies. One one hand, there are studies that look very promising… while, on the other hand, CPAP has actually been shown to be a lot more effective as a treatment option for Obstructive Sleep Apnea.

Some people say that the Pillar Procedure isn’t quite as effective as CPAP because it only works on one specific part of the airway… while CPAP works on the entire thing. It is important to explore both sides of the coin when looking at a procedure like this… especially if you are going to be paying for it out-of-pocket!

Make no mistake, the Pillar Procedure looks promising… but it is also not without its flaws. It is possible that it looks a bit better on paper than it does in real-world application.

Why Would Someone Get This Procedure Instead of Just Buying a Regular Anti-Snoring Product, Like an MAD?

This is a very good question that we have heard many times… so we are going to discuss it here.

Some people do not like the idea of their snoring problems forcing them to become ‘dependent’ on different types of devices. Mandibular Advancement Devices, Tongue Stabilization Devices, and even CPAP machines (which actually have a fairly poor compliance rating) are all pretty effective for treating snoring. And MADs and CPAP can also be used to treat OSA.

But there is another side to this. If you choose to use one of these methods to treat your snoring problems, then you are effectively choosing an option that you will become dependent upon until you find an alternative.

None of these therapies train your body or fix the problem to the point where the device can eventually be discontinued. In almost every case, anti-snoring devices must continually be used to produce a positive impact. If you discard them or discontinue their use, you usually go back to snoring (unless you have made lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, that have had enough of an impact to solve the problem by themselves).

This is where the Pillar Procedure can actually promise a lot of value. By offering the opportunity for a more permanent fix to snoring and Sleep Apnea, the Pillar Procedure makes it much easier for people who desire a life free from anti-snoring aids to realize their dream. It doesn’t work 100% of the time… but when it does work, evidence shows that it works long-term.

Which would you rather have? One easy surgical procedure that could potentially get rid of your snoring problems for life, or an anti-snoring device that will help, but that will require you to use it for a long time… potentially for the rest of your life?

If the idea of the procedure sounds better to you, you may be the perfect candidate for the Pillar Procedure!

Can You Feel the Implants After the Surgery?

According to everything we’ve read, the implants cannot be felt after the surgery. A small percentage of people report feeling a minor ‘foreign body sensation,’ but this is also said to go away pretty quickly after the procedure is finished.

Are There Any Major Side Effects Reported With This Procedure?

One great thing about the Pillar Procedure is that there are almost zero serious complications reported after it is performed. There have been well over 45,000 procedures performed worldwide at this point… and less than 1% of patients have reported complications.

The most frequently reported minor complication is what they call a ‘partial extrusion’ of an implant. This is essentially a problem that occurs if a rod is placed too close to the surface, or too deeply within the tissue. If it is not placed correctly, the tip may poke out of the skin and cause pain and irritation. If this happens, you can easily go back to the doctor and have that rod removed to fix the problem.

One really good thing about this procedure is that the margin for error is quite small. There are very few side effects, with virtually none of them being major.

You can find out more about the procedure by reading the official FAQs here.

Our Final Thoughts

The Pillar Procedure has its downsides – but if you want a permanent solution to pursue that may effectively end your snoring problems for the foreseeable future… then this may be the perfect option for you. It is a bit more expensive than most other remedies, and it does require a small surgery.

But even with that being said, there seems to be a very good chance that it will solve your snoring woes for good. And that can be a huge relief if you have been suffering from snoring problems for a long time.

On the flipside, if the Pillar Procedure just doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are plenty of non-surgical alternatives to choose from. You can use an MAD, a TSD, and/or nasal strips to help treat snoring, and CPAP to treat Obstructive Sleep Apnea. Some Mandibular Advancement Devices can even be used to treat OSA as well.

Lifestyle changes are one of the best long-term options for snoring relief, but they take work. You will likely need to hit the gym and lose some weight if you want the problem to disappear completely.

At any rate, the most important thing to remember is that snoring is not just a nuisance. It is actually a serious problem that can have long-lasting negative consequences for your health… and it is imperative that you get it treated and dealt with as soon as possible.

Updated 2.4.2019

 

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Josh Sigafus Editor

Joshua Sigafus is just a writer trying to make the world a better place. You can find him on Facebook.