To most people, snoring is at worst a nighttime annoyance, however, this seemingly benign quirk can hide great dangers. Excessively loud snoring, aside from irritating whoever has the misfortune of sharing your bed, is a sign of poor health and possible sleep apnea – a dangerous disorder that typically comes with a host of similarly alarm raising afflictions such as heart disease, diabetes, asthma, and, even on its own, can cause death. For years, the only cure for excessive snoring and sleep apnea was an extensive and costly jaw realignment surgery. Not anymore. In this issue, Oi talks to Dr. Ho Xuan Vuong from the Orient Skincare & Laser Center on a new medical solution – Fotona Night Lase – to a decades-old problem.

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What exactly is sleep apnea and how common is it?
Obstructive sleep apnea is a sleep disorder characterized by pauses in breathing or instances of shallow or infrequent breathing during sleep. Each pause in breathing, called an apnea, can last for several seconds to several minutes, and may occur, by definition, at least five times in an hour. Prolonged and untreated sleep apnea leads to poor sleep, fatigue, epilepsy and eventually death by asphyxiation. Sleep apnea can afflict people of all genders and races though overweight males over 40 have a significantly higher risk. It is estimated that four percent of adult men and two percent of adult women are afflicted with sleep apnea.

How does Fotona Night Lase end snoring and sleep apnea?
Loud snoring and sleep apnea have a similar root cause: obstructed breathing in the soft palate and uvula. To fix this problem, the uvula and soft palate need to be tightened. It used to be that we could only do this through surgery. The surgeon cuts the patient’s jaw and face and reconstructs the jawbones, forcing the muscles in the area to reshape themselves to the new jaw. Recovery time post-surgery varies from person to person but I’ve seen extreme cases where a patient takes an entire year to recover. Fotona Night Lase, on the other hand, is a completely non-invasive procedure. A solid state Er:YAG laser is administered to the soft palate and the uvula to stimulate and tighten the area’s soft tissue. With time and good application, this treatment will end snoring and sleep apnea.

Is anaesthetic required in Fotona Night Lase?
Not at all. It would defeat the purpose of a non-invasive procedure, wouldn’t it? The only thing the patient feels is mild warmth at the treated area.

How many sessions does a full Fotona Night Lase treatment require? how long does each session take? are repeated treatments required?
A full treatment is carried out in three sessions with each session lasting only ten minutes. There’s a down time of two to four weeks between each session. An entire treatment can therefore take as along two to three months to complete. After the first session though, the snoring will decrease by 70 percent. If the patient maintains good health and refrains from smoking and excessive drinking, no repeated treatments are required.

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Are there any side effects? Can the patient drink and eat normal solid food in between sessions?
The treatment has no significant side effects and does not interfere with the patient’s eating and drinking in any way. Right after a session, the patient may feel warm or even hot in their mouth, similar to a mild case of inflamed throat and mouth, but even that should pass quickly.
* Interviewed by NDP Khanh – Images by Ngoc Tran.