Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Rachel Ray has vocal cord surgery

Story from the New York Daily News online edition about Rachel Ray and her vocal issues.

Rachael Ray undergoes vocal cord surgery to remove benign cyst

Tuesday, July 14th 2009, 4:00 AM


Rachel Ray is planning to be "giving her voice a rest for the next week or two," says the TV host's rep.

The vocal cord operation that omnipresent TV host Rachael Ray reportedly underwent last week has a very high success rate, which means the ebullient celebrity chef should be back in the kitchen before long.

Ray underwent surgery, according to People magazine, in order to remove a benign cyst from her vocal cord, following months of failed vocal therapy.

Her rep,Charlie Dougiello, said in People that the toughest part for the chef "is going to be giving her voice a rest for the next week or two."

Most at risk for developing vocal problems such as cysts, nodules and polyps are singers, teachers, sales people and others who talk a lot, says Dr. Clark Rosen, an otolaryngologist specializing in voice disorders at the University of Pittsburgh.

"It is a result of overuse or misuse of the voice," he says. "Rachael Ray speaks very loudly and she has what we call a percussive voice, not a soft voice. Vocal cords are designed to vibrate with each other, but they do need down time or recovery time." (This is important for us to remember in the voiceover business. Some of us are very active with voicing all day or evenings. Here's confirmation that we need to take breaks and care for our vocal cords the way a professional athlete would with their muscles. A raspy voice indicates that the vocal cords need a period of rest or have been damaged and need additional care.)

Soft and pliable, vocal cords, or folds, vibrate extremely fast in order to give the voice its pitch, explains Dr. Michael Johns, an otolaryngologist specializing in voice disorders and director of the Emory Voice Center.

"They vibrate 200 times per seconds for women, and for sopranos, they may vibrate 1,000 times a second," he explains. "What happens with a cyst is that the delicate mucus membranes break down, and then the folds don’t vibrate in the same way."

The first course of treatment is voice therapy, which very often takes care of the problem.

If it doesn’t, an operation to remove the cyst is recommended.

Surgery is "generally safe," Johns says, and it’s "almost always successful" when done by a competent specialist.

The toughest part could be the recovery period following surgery.

"You have to rest your voice for a week," he says. "And that means no talking, no whispering, no throat clearing and no coughing."

In Ray’s case, her rep told People that "the minor, non-invasive procedure was a success and she is already resting at home."

Though overusing the voice is definitely a risk factor for vocal cord problems, it’s not known why some big talkers get them and others don’t, Rosen says.

"Some guys can sell peanuts at the stadium for 2-0 years and never have a problem, and yet a 16-year-old girl can develop a vocal cord bump after just one round of high singing demands in the spring musical," he says.

The main symptom is persistent hoarseness.

Says Rosen: "Anyone with persistent hoarseness for two weeks without an upper respiratory infection should see a doctor.

(What do you do to keep your vocal cords healthy and strong? Are there exercises you perform to strengthen your voice?) (Here are some informative links about vocal cord nodules, polyps and cysts: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery,, and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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