In this medical health video learn how a new surgical procedure could give millions of Americans the good night's sleep they've been dreaming of.
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Jennifer Mathews: Eileen Lightcap used to feel like she was in a fog all day long. Eileen Lightcap: I just didn't have the desire to do anything, because I was just too tired to do it. Jennifer Mathews: Doctors diagnosed Eileen with obstructive sleep apnea. It's caused by the throat closing during sleep, cutting off the airway and waking the body up. It's more than an annoyance. If untreated, it can increase the risk of heart attack or stroke. Dr. Karl Doghramji: We know that people with sleep apnea have a higher mortality rate than people who do not have sleep apnea. Eileen Lightcap: When you think that you can go to bed and then not wake up the next day, I just don't think I was ready for that. Jennifer Mathews: That's one reason she chose to undergo a new surgical technique called the Genial Bone Advancement Trephine or GBAT. Dr. Maruits Boon: The tongue is attached to the very front portion of the jaw here. So if we can actually just move a very small portion of the jaw forward, we can pull the tongue forward and open the space behind the tongue. Jennifer Mathews: During GBAT, doctors go in through an incision inside the lip. They move a portion of bone about the size of a penny then add a small permanent plate to keep the tongue from blocking the airway. Doctors say, there is no change to a patient's physical appearance and the surgery is quick. Some patients may feel numbness in the jaw and lips, for several months. For Eileen, it was a small price to pay. Eileen Lightcap: I still get tired, but I don't wake up tired. Jennifer Mathews: This is Jennifer Mathews reporting.