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Health Team

New 5-minute procedure helping those with nasal passage issues breathe easier

Posted May 10

— Many people have trouble breathing through their noses.

That may be due to allergies, an injury to the nose or being born with smaller nasal passages. It could also be the result of a problem called nasal valve stenosis, where the outer cartilage of the nose is weak.

Invasive surgeries used to be the only option to correct issues, but a new outpatient procedure is helping many breathe easier in about 5 minutes.

Dr. James O'Neil, an ear, nose and throat specialist at WakeMed Hospital, says many of the problems used to be treated with open rhinoplasty surgery, a procedure that takes up to 4 hours and includes weeks worth of recovery.

Now, O'Neil offers a less invasive and cheaper implant procedure called Latera.

Using a handheld device, O'Neil injects a tiny device between the outer layers of skin and cartilage.

"It provides a pivot point off og the nasal bone to the cartilage to keep it expanded when we breathe through the nose," O'Neil said.

After the procedure, the material in the Latera implant dissolves over about 18 months and is absorbed by the body.

"Your body creates kind of a scar tissue band that continues to hold the nasal valve open, even after the implant is absorbed," O'Neil said.

The procedure has been available for only about six months, and O'Neil says he's used the new method on about 15 patients since it became available.

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