The first implantable device to treat sleep apnea has received FDA approval. Restore Medical's Pillar Procedure requires implanting 3 inserts into the soft pallet, stiffening the tissue, and reducing airway obstruction. The inserts, each less than an inch long, are made from a woven soft polyester that has been used for many years in other implantable medical products, according to the company. Patients can have the device installed in a single office visit under a local anesthetic. The company said that the procedure, approved last year to treat snoring, is completely reversible.

Obstructive sleep apnea, the most common form of the disorder, occurs when the soft tissue in the back of the throat collapses and closes while sleeping. The disorder can result in individuals snoring loudly and waking up as many as 20 to 30 times an hour.