The VivAer Nasal Airway Remodeling Procedure Explained
Difficulty sleeping. Snoring. Congestion that never seems to end. Trouble breathing through your nose while working out.
If you know these symptoms well, you may have a nasal airway obstruction. Maybe you’ve had it so long, you didn’t even realize breathing could be different!
If this is your situation, you may benefit from the VivAer nasal airway remodeling procedure. Let’s take a deeper look at the VivAer procedure, its benefits, who the procedure is right for, and what to expect with VivAer recovery.
What Is Nasal Airway Obstruction?
Nasal airway obstruction is any blockage in the nose or nasal passages that prevents air from flowing freely.
Your body is designed to take in air through the nose, which warms and humidifies air as you breathe it in. Obstructed nasal passages force you to instead breathe through your mouth, which can lead to a dry mouth, sore throat, dental problems, and difficulty sleeping.
To see if you have nasal airway obstruction, an ENT doctor will look at four main components in your nose and evaluate whether they are contributing to an obstruction.
The nasal septum is the central wall that divides the nose into two distinct halves. When the septum is deviated, or pushed to one side, it can restrict airflow on one (or sometimes both) sides of the nose.
Some people are born with a deviated septum. Other times it results from trauma to the nose, such as a car accident or sports injury.
The inferior turbinates are structures on the interior sidewalls of the nose. The inferior turbinates increase the nose’s surface area to help humidify and warm air before it enters the lungs. If these turbinates become enlarged from allergies, infection, or another cause of inflammation, they can cause an obstruction.
The nasal mucosa is the lining that covers the entire interior surface of the nose. When this lining becomes inflamed from allergies or a sinus infection, it narrows the nasal passages and obstructs nasal breathing.
Also known as nostrils, the nasal valves maintain their shape to help funnel air into the body as you breathe in.
Some people’s nasal valves collapse when they inhale deeply or breathe vigorously, as with exercise. In some people, the nasal valves remain collapsed all the time. Collapsed valves restrict airflow and force a person to breathe through their mouth. This is where VivAer Nasal Airway Remodeling comes in.
What Is the VivAer Nasal Airway Remodeling Procedure?
The VivAer procedure specifically addresses nasal airway obstruction caused by nasal valve collapse. It quickly, gently, and permanently widens and reshapes the nasal valve to remove the obstruction for good. VivAer can also sometimes help when the patient has a widened septal body (when the nasal septum is a little too wide toward the top of the nose).
The VivAer procedure is performed in a physician’s office with local anesthetic to keep you comfortable throughout the process. The doctor inserts a very small wand through your nostril to target your nasal valve area.
The wand uses low-temperature radiofrequency energy to heat the nasal tissues and make them more malleable. The physician applies a bit of pressure and gently reshapes the area. The entire VivAer procedure, including numbing, takes about half an hour.
The VivAer procedure usually expands the nasal airway by 1 to 2 millimeters. This may not sound very impressive, but think about how small the nasal airways are. That extra 1 to 2 millimeters can make an enormous difference in airflow!
What Are the Benefits of the VivAer Procedure?
VivAer offers significant advantages over previous treatments.
In the past, the standard treatment for nasal valve collapse was a cartilage graft. A surgeon took cartilage from a patient’s septum and implanted it in the sidewalls of the nose to help maintain an open airway. Cartilage grafts are invasive procedures that require general anesthesia in a hospital or surgery center and several weeks’ recovery time.
VivAer is a noninvasive procedure performed right in your ENT doctor’s office. It is incredibly well tolerated by most patients, causes little to no discomfort, and requires almost no recovery time.
While other procedures like septoplasty and turbinate reduction address certain causes of nasal airway obstruction, they don’t address collapsed nasal valves. Sometimes patients who’ve undergone other surgeries in the past find relief with a simple VivAer procedure.
VivAer is often performed along with other nasal procedures, which can increase recovery time. But if VivAer is the only procedure being performed, patients can resume their normal activities right away. They will have no pain and little to no bleeding.
VivAer recovery mainly involves only two things. First, patients experience some crusting in the nostrils for two to three weeks after the procedure. We send them home with an ointment to put on the inside of their nostrils to keep them comfortable. Second, they also experience some congestion for a week or so, but after that time, airflow significantly improves.
Interested in VivAer Nasal Airway Remodeling?
The physicians at ENT Associates of Lubbock are experts in helping you breathe better. Our team would love to help you evaluate whether VivAer Nasal Airway Remodeling is right for you. Give us a call today.
Dr. Cuthbertson is a physician at Ear Nose & Throat Associates of Lubbock. He joined the team at ENT Lubbock from Houston, where he was chief resident of the prestigious Bobby R. Alford Department of Otolaryngology at Baylor College of Medicine. He is board certified in Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgery and has quickly built a reputation, not only as an extremely skilled surgeon, but as an approachable and compassionate clinician adept in the newest standards and technologies. Learn more about Dr. Cuthbertson.