Simple procedure could ease sleep apnea

A South Florida doctor has come up with a procedure to help patients with sleep apnea that aren't getting relief from other remedies.

PLANTATION, Fla. – It’s estimated that 22 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, but treating it can be tricky.

Plantation resident Frank Forman can attest to that after trying both medication and a device called a C-Pap machine.

“I just couldn’t get used to the machine, the whole process of using it, the hose and the mask,” he said.

Dr. Lee Mandel, an ear, nose and throat specialist, said the three key factors in sleep apnea involve the nose, the base of the tongue and the palate.

“Many times in people who have sleep apnea or snoring, the palate will be elongated or fat,” said Mandel

But traditional surgical procedures to correct the issue are hard for many to tolerate.

“You’re removing a big swatch of their palate, there are stitches and there’s about a 50% failure rate not to mention it really hurts and there’s a long recovery process,” Mandel said.

As a result, Mandel developed an approach he calls MIPS, which stands for Minimally Invasive Palatal Stiffening.

The procedure is done in just a few minutes in the doctor’s office under IV sedation.

Using a precision diode laser, Mandel penetrates the palatal surface of the uvula and soft palate to correct the area of obstruction.

“It’s really remarkable to see what happens,” said Mandel.

Forman said he had a few days of discomfort following the procedure but he started noticing improvement in his sleep within days.

“This is a viable option rather than a real surgical procedure that would take months to recover from,” Forman said.

The procedure costs $600 which some insurance companies will cover in full.

About the Authors:

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.