Dr. Falk at the Center for Facial Plastic Surgery, Albany NY, has recently introduced submucosal minimally invasive tongue base excision (SMILE) into his armamentarium of surgical procedures for the treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. This procedure has tremendous potential to help individuals whose obstructive symptoms are related to base of tongue fullness, a site that is the prime cause of failure when not adequately addressed. There are several methods for reducing the tongue base, including radiofrequency tongue base reduction which uses a needle like probe that is inserted into the tongue to deliver energy for the purpose of shrinking the tongue musculature. The problem with this approach is that the results have not lived up to expectations. It takes multiple treatments and it is difficult to get insurance to cover this expense.
This newest technique involves making a stab incision on the surface of the tongue and then tunneling under the surface using a radiofrequency probe to strategically remove a portion of the intrinsic tongue muscles. This mucosal, or surface sparing procedure, has the advantage of causing considerable less post-operative pain while producing results that mimic more aggressive direct resections of the tongue base. The SMILE procedure is technically demanding on account of the necessity to safeguard against damage to anatomic structures including blood vessels and nerves that run through the tongue. Dr. Falk is now performing this procedure as part of a comprehensive approach to the surgical treatment of obstructive sleep apnea. If you would like more information about this procedure, and the appropriateness for your condition, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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