Home>>Otolaryngology>>Patient Testimonial: Gary Umstead, Age 59, Sleep Apnea Patient
Gary Umstead, Age 59, Sleep Apnea Patient

Gary Umstead was diagnosed with obstructive sleep apnea in August of 2011 after undergoing a sleep study. His physician prescribed a continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) machine, which is a standard treatment for this type of sleep disorder.

"After receiving my CPAP machine and using it for a couple months, I felt better however the CPAP machine didn't seem like it was as effective for me as it should've been," said Gary. "It did help and I felt better, however I felt like I was starting to go backwards again health wise."

A few months later Gary happened to catch an episode of the Today Show featuring a physician named Dr. Adrianna Heikert, a New Jersey otolaryngologist specializing in the use of robotic surgery to treat sleep apnea. Not long after seeing the show, Gary had booked a flight and was sitting in Dr. Heikert's office to learn more about this latest treatment option.

Dr. Heikert began compiling a list of physicians across the nation for patient referrals after a flood of phone calls and patient visits, and Dr. Ho-Sheng Lin of the Wayne State University Physician Group topped that list for Gary's home state of Michigan.

After a consultation with Dr. Lin, Gary underwent a sleep endoscopy to determine the cause of his sleep apnea. It was decided that an uvulopalatopharyngoplasty (UPPP) procedure to widen his airway, remove his tonsils, uvula and part of his soft palate needed to be performed. While recovering, Gary said he could feel a difference in his breathing right away.

"I was sleeping better, had more energy and I was feeling pretty good," said Gary. "I wasn't tired like I used to be all the time."

However as his recovery progressed, Gary said he felt something wasn't right as had started to snore again and was not sleeping like he had expected. He told Dr. Lin he wanted to undergo another sleep endoscopy as a follow-up. The sleep endoscopy revealed that the extra space created by the first surgery was allowing Gary's tongue to fall back during sleep, causing a partial blockage of his airway.

As a result, Dr. Lin performed a robotic-assisted resectioning of the base of Gary's tongue, as well as an epiglottopexy procedure. Using the da Vinci robotic technology, Dr. Lin successfully corrected the problem allowing Gary to breathe easy.

Gary describes his experience with Dr. Lin as life-changing. Two months into his recovery from the second surgery, Gary couldn't be happier with the outcome.

"I feel so much better," said Gary. "I sleep better, I'm not snoring, and I have more energy."
When asked about Dr. Lin's bedside manner, Gary says Dr. Lin was professional and very informative. Gary added that all of his questions were answered, and that he found it very helpful when Dr. Lin explained exactly what the surgery and recovery would entail using wall charts in his exam room.

"Dr. Lin is truly a sleep apnea specialist and I'm amazed at my results and what he has done for me," he said.

Gary underwent another sleep study in January 2013 as a follow-up to his September surgery. The results came back with an apnea-hypopnea index (AHI) score of 3.5, meaning his sleep apnea had been cured and a CPAP machine would no longer be necessary.

"There's a lot of information out there about sleep apnea surgery, as far as I am concerned Dr. Lin is the only way to go. He is the expert."