Whether it's allergies or snoring, one trip to the doctor might be all you need for better breathing. A new, surgery-free nasal procedure is now being offered in Western Washington.
Since she was a child, Priscilla Hermsen has struggled to breathe through her nose. She hopes to change that in the next few minutes.
"I've always had trouble breathing, and I think this is going to be the cure," Hermsen said, just before trying a new treatment called VIVAER.
ENT Otolaryngologist Dr. Ronald Krueger uses heat - about 140 degrees - to remodel cartilage in her nose.
Halfway through the treatment, he paused.
"Go ahead and take a little sniff," he suggested.
She did and, "wow!" she said. After a few more sniffs of air, "oooh."
"And it's that amazing every time we do it," Krueger said.
There's no bleeding, no surgery and no real downtime. While not a cure for all breathing issues, Krueger says it helps many people with nasal obstructions.
"You wouldn't believe how many of my patients self-identify that they sleep with one hand on their cheek or they watch TV in this posture position." Krueger demonstrated by pulling on his cheek. "What they're doing, is they're struggling to open the nasal valve because they feel so much better," he said.
A retired competitive runner, Sandi Halgren noticed more labored breathing about a decade ago. After the VIVAER treatment, she saw an immediate difference in her athletic performance.
"A lot of my friends are about 10 years younger than I am," Halgren said. "I can keep up with them now. So that's been awesome and I think it's been the breathing."
VIVAER won FDA approval a year and a half ago, so it's early to know how long the results will last. But right now, it feels like the cure Priscilla Hermsen was looking for.
"I can never breathe through that side," Hermsen said. "And now it's just so clear. It's amazing."
Krueger said about two thirds of insurance plans have been covering VIVAER. If you have to pay out-of-pocket, it's around $2,900.