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Meet The Man Who Saved Adele’s Voice

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Adele is rolling deep in Grammy awards. She brought home six more Sunday night, including Album of the Year for “21.”

But with all this success, only a year ago, Adele didn’t know if her career in front of the microphone could continue.

Adele was still a rising star when we first met her in Minneapolis, when she recorded the Cities 97 Sampler back in 2010.

She was supposed to hold a concert last summer at First Avenue, but she had to cancel that performance because of throat problems. Several months later, she performed a make-up concert at the Xcel Energy Center but shortly after, she called off her whole tour.

“When you have vocal bleeding, you simply can’t perform,” the singer said.

She thought she had a bad bout of laryngitis. But when things didn’t get better — doctors found out she had something much worse.

She had a benign polyp on her vocal chord. Dr. Steven Zeitels treated Adele.

“This is not at all pre-cancerous, this is a thoroughly benign event, and they tend to happen in people who have to use their voice considerably,” he said.

Adele described the surgery to remove the polyp to Anderson Cooper on “60 Minutes.”

“They put a laser down your throat, cut off the polyp and kind of laser your hemorrhage back together,” she said.

The surgeon used cutting edge technology to fix Adele’s vocal chords, wave lengths of light to shrink the blood vessels.

“The laser technology is called a KTP or a greenlight laser. It is exactly the technology that I used with Steven, Steven Tyler, and it’s exactly what I use to treat almost all cancers endoscopically,” he said.

The surgery was very delicate.

“The level of precision is profound, you can turn down the power and take care of the tiniest vessel that is giving a singer tremendous difficulties and you can turn it up and take care of an extremely rare form of an aggressive cancer,” Zeitels said.

After the surgery, doctors told Adele she couldn’t speak for two months. It was hard for her to keep quiet.

“I had a note pad and I also had an application on my phone, you type the word and it speaks it,” she said.

The singer has recovered and her prognosis is good.

“She’s looking great, in terms of her vocal functions,” Zeitels said.

Sunday, as she accepted her Grammy, she thanked the men who might make future awards possible.

“Seeing as it’s a vocal performance, I need to thank my doctors, I suppose, who brought my voice back,” Adele said.

The surgeon has also treated Cher, Julie Andrews and Lionel Richie.

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