Medtronic Pillar Procedure for Snoring and OSA

Medtronic Pillar Procedure for Snoring and OSA

Have you read Medtronic pillar procedure reviews and wondering whether the procedure will work for you? Read on to find out everything you should know about this exercise.

The Pillar Procedure is a creation of Medtronic, Inc., a surgical technologies business venture that develops and distributes procedural solutions and products for surgical application. Their products are used for the following:

  • Ear, nose and throat
  • Neuron-spine, cranial and orthopedics
  • Surgical oncology

The company’s headquarters are in Minneapolis, USA.

The Pillar Procedure is a minor, non-invasive mild surgery that helps to alleviate nighttime snoring and mild to moderate OSA.

The surgery aims at stiffening the soft palate tissues located at the back of the throat and mouth. As you may already know, snoring occurs due to collapsing of the throat tissues, which lead to blockage of the upper airway of the tracheal system. Stiffening these tissues would prevent them from collapsing or vibrating.

The pillar procedure is performed by a specially trained surgeon. The surgeon inserts minute, tightly woven implants into the soft palate using a special delivery tool pre-loaded with implants.

Obstructive sleep apnea is a serious sleep condition where a person doesn’t only chronically snore, but also has prolonged pauses in their breathing. The Medtronic Pillar Procedure is a more permanent solution to this sleep condition.

Overview of the Pillar Procedure

During a pillar procedure, the patient is given a local anaesthetic and antiseptic mouthwash.

Medtronic Pillar Procedure for Snoring and OSA 1

The doctor will then use a tool with a long, curved handle, preloaded with the first implant to navigate to the center of your throat, close to the uvula where the soft palette begins and the hard palette ends. He will use this same tool to create a small narrow cut, using a small tubular blade on the gadget, and then release the pillar-like implant by releasing trigger on the device.

The surgeon will use the same steps in placing additional implants on the left and right side of the first insertion less than 2mm apart.

The pivot of this procedure is actually when the implants are inserted. And this will generally take less than 20 minutes to be completed.

The pillar-like implants are each about 18mm long with a 2mm outer diameter. Since no soft tissues are removed on implantation, the patient recovers faster without any post-surgical discomfort.

The implants are composed of terephthalate, a type of tightly woven polyester that has been used over the last 50 years in a variety of implantable surgical products.

The doctor will normally independently decide whether to place 3 or 5 implants. However, most doctors place 5 implants, believing that the extra 2 implants will be more effective. There has not been any medical or scientific research to prove or dispute this.

How Long After Surgery Will I See The Results?

The body will naturally initiate the growth of tissues around the implants, a process called fibrotic response (fibrosis). The process will stiffen and harden the soft palate and create additional support for preventing collapse or vibration of the tissues into the airways in the throat as you sleep.

Please note that the implants, on their own, don’t eliminate the occurrence of OSA or snoring. Rather, it is the growth of the hard scar tissues round the implants, which eventually stiffen the soft palette tissues that do so.

Moreover, the growth of the hard scar tissues doesn’t happen overnight. Therefore, you won’t appreciate the results of your surgery for about 4 to 6 weeks after. Generally, it will take 3-12 months for the hard scar tissues to completely encase the implants.

Pillar Procedure Side Effects

The recovery period for this procedure is very minimal. Most patients can go about their daily activities; eating, talking, laughing, and drinking as usual, a few hours after surgery. Moreover, the pillars are very discreet and will hardly be noticed.

You won’t also experience too much discomfort, apart from being aware of the foreign body in your throat. This feeling is likely to fade away after a while.

Since this is a surgical operation involving an incision, you are likely to have some minimal pain in your throat. There is also the risk of infection and the possibility of your body rejecting the implant. If this happens, you may get uncomfortable and the implant may have to be removed.

Medtronic Pillar Procedure for Snoring and OSA 2

In rare cases, the procedure has been known not to work and even increase OSA.

According to Medtronic, any complications that arise from the pillar procedure can be reversed by removing the implants. However, the hard scar tissues are technically expected to remain even after the implants have been removed.

Scientific Studies of the Pillar Procedure

Several clinical studies have been carried out to confirm the effectiveness of the pillar procedure. The studies have shown that the procedure yields positive results.

However, there are also some contradicting information

  • The research carried out was funded by the manufacturer.  Therefore, it is not surprising that the findings turned out in their favor.
  • According to these studies, emphasis on the effectiveness of the pillar procedure is more on its ability to reduce the intensity of snoring and the incidence of OSA than its ability to stop these all together.
  • In some studies, 80% of patients confessed a significant reduction in their amount of snoring after their surgery.
  • Seven other studies published in an issue of Laryngoscope underwent a meta-analysis which confirmed that the pillar procedure was only effective in reducing the loudness of snoring and decreasing OSA from Mild to Moderate.

Should You Go for the Pillar Procedure?

The effectiveness of this procedure depends on:

  • What your case is
  • The cases of OSA that the procedure works on

The pillar procedure targets the most common reason for OSA, i.e., the collapse or vibration of the soft palate tissues.

According to multiple studies, 80% of cases of OSA and chronic snoring result from the collapsing of excess or unsupported tissues at the back of the throat, which consequently destructs the flow of air. The rest of the cases (about 20%) result from other causes, including adenoids, blockage of nasal airways and tonsils.

Therefore, you should consult your doctor before opting for the pillar procedure, just in case you don’t fall in the 80% statistic of people it will work for.

How Much Does Pillar Procedure Cost?

Snoring treatments are mostly considered cosmetic. As a result, there are very few medical insurance covers or Medicare for them. Therefore, you might have to fund your treatment.

Generally, the cost of the pillar procedure depends on the doctor you choose, and the number of implant that will be used. In most cases, the price ranges from $1500 o $2000.

Before opting for the procedure, do your homework well, especially on the doctor you choose. Ask the doctor for references of the patients he has performed the procedure on. Also, check the doctor’s qualifications.

Pillar Procedure Reviews

Even with the many clinical studies that support this procedure, public feedback from Yelp shows that many people were dissatisfied with their results. However, we will not pin this procedure down based on these, since the results of any procedure are different for individuals and patients have varying degrees of OSA and snoring.

This procedure was designed for mild to moderate OSA. If you have severe OSA, it may not work for you.

Pillar Procedure Review: Verdict

The pillar procedure is not a 100% guaranteed solution for stopping snoring. Moreover,, it is costly and the results take a while to show. Before opting for the procedure, ask yourself the following:

  • Since this procedure is cosmetic, is it really essential?
  • Is there another less invasive procedure that can solve your condition?
  • Is this procedure more effective than other alternatives?
  • Can you afford this procedure?


Since I was diagnosed with chronic snoring, I have used different snoring mouthpieces that have proved effective in managing my snoring. Not that I didn’t have an idea about the Pillar procedure, it’s just that it is invasive and expensive yet not really more effective than snoring mouthpieces.

Medtronic Pillar Procedure for Snoring and OSA 3

Although mouthguards and snoring mouthpieces are not a luxurious solution, you will only be wearing them during sleep. I suggest trying a snoring mouthguard first before opting for the pillar procedure.


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