Encyclopedia Home / L / Laser Surgery - HealthCentral Encyclopedia

Laser Surgery

  • Definition

    laser surgery is any form of surgery using laser technology.


    The word laser is an acronym. Its stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The first working laser was built in 1960.

    Lasers require an active medium and an outside energy source to stimulate the active medium. Unlike ordinary light from an incandescent bulb, lasers emit light that is monochromatic (one color), directional, and usually of a single wavelength.

    Laser light is generated when certain atoms are stimulated sufficiently so as to emit energy in the form of a brilliant beam of coherent light. By placing highly polished mirrors at either end of the active medium - as is commonly done in a laser - the emitted photons are guided back through the active medium. This amplification of energy accounts for the remarkable qualities of lasers.

    During the last decade, laser technology has become an effective weapon in the battle against disease. The laser has been recruited for surgery to zap trouble bodywide, particularly in hard to reach or delicate areas with small operative fields, such as the eye, fallopian tube, or mouth.

    Specialists claim that the high-tech instrument can minimize such scalpel drawbacks as bleeding, swelling, bruising, scarring, pain and lengthy recovery. The laser has been successfully used in a number of areas:

    Ophthalmology: Introduced into medicine as a tool for repairing leaking blood vessels in the eye, the laser is widely accepted in surgery for retinal diseases (suffered by many with diabetes), glaucoma, and removal of the secondary membrane after cataract removal.

    Obstetrics-gynecology: Lasers are in employed to remove ovarian cysts, unblock fallopian tubes to reverse infertility, and treat urinary incontinence or ectopic pregnancy. They also offer an alternative to hysterectomy for uterine bleeding - one that preserves childbearing capability.

    Surgeons opt for the laser in about half of procedures for endometriosis, a common disorder resulting when renegade tissue escapes form the uterine lining and colonizes other organs. According to many obstetrician-gynecologists, operating with lasers in the uterine cavity is a big step forward in women's medicine.

    Dermatology: Lasers are proving their worth for zapping warts, moles, precancerous lip growths, and the once-permanent tattoo. No other method has such a power of removal without blemish or pain.

    Cosmetic Surgery: Whether removing a birthmark from a baby's face or wiping away a liver spot from an aging hand, lasers have opened up worlds where cosmetic surgeons previously dared not tread.

    Urology: Urologists use lasers to zap polyps that develop into colon cancer and, in a much newer application, to vaporize tissue blocking the flow of urine in a high-tech takeoff of traditional prostatectomy, the second most common operation performed on men.

    Gastroenterology: Lasers speedily fragment gallstones trapped in the common duct between the liver and intestine, allowing their retrieval and forestalling a potentially deadly condition. The gallbladder can be removed harmlessly but not so the duct, which is needed for survival.

    Dentistry: A wide variety of dental lasers are available. Some are still in research and development. Most dental lasers have infrared beams and produce biological effects such as heating, vaporizing, coagulation, and cutting.

    The advantages of laser dentistry are that it is faster and more efficient in many cases, more antiseptic, most often bloodless, less invasive, more precise and conserving of healthy tissue, reduces postoperative discomfort, decreases stress, and reduces the need for local anesthetics.


    Is laser surgery appropriate for this problem?

    How long has the procedure been successfully performed?

    How will the surgery be done?

    How does laser surgery compare with traditional surgical methods?

    How long have you been performing laser surgery?

    What are the risks?

    What result can be expected?

    What degree of success is usually obtained by the laser procedure you recommend?