In this medical video learn how this tiny implant could be just what people with sleep apnea have been waiting for.
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Jennifer Mathews: As a busy art director in LA, Tony doesn't have time for a sleep disorder. Tony: When I wake up in the morning, I'd be completely restless and I would feel like I hadn't slept at all. And people always who were at work going, God! You look so tired, you look so tired. Jennifer Mathews: Like 18 million Americans, Tony has sleep apnea. The condition causes people to stop breathing during sleep. Those breathe breaks can happen up to 400 times a night. Martin Hopp: Every time this happens, you lose sleep. You may never get any deep sleep. Jennifer Mathews: The CPAP machine is an effective treatment but it's cumbersome. Now, there is an easier fix called the Pillar Procedure. Martin Hopp: If you have mild sleep apnea, you'll do really well with this procedure. Jennifer Mathews: In a 30 minute procedure, doctors put three tiny implants in the soft palate. The implants and the scar tissue that forms stiffen the palate. Martin Hopp: It's kind of like putting a batten in a sail or stiffening a rod in a sail, so it doesn't luff anymore. The soft palate is stiff, it doesn't fall backwards, and you don't stop breathing. Jennifer Mathews: Studies show it works in two-thirds of patients with mild sleep apnea. A sleep study showed Tony stop breathing 26 times an hour. Then he had the Pillar Procedure. Tony: I automatically noticed I was more awake and more alert, and I could do more. Jennifer Mathews: Tony says his new sleep habits have given him more energy for his job and his life. This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.