What is a laser?
LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser is an opto-electronic device that produces highly concentrated light rays. Laser power may range from milliWatts (in CD-ROM drives and laser pointers) to dozens of Watts (industrial and medical applications) and over trillions of Watts (pulsed lasers in scientific and military applications).
What is laser surgery?
Interaction of laser light with tissue provides a fundamentally different approach to surgery. In laser surgery, a highly focused laser beam can efficiently ablate (either vaporize or chip away) the living tissue. At the same time, it seals (welds) capillaries, small blood vessels, lymphatics, and nerve endings, with significant benefits to both patients and surgeons.
What is the most efficient soft-tissue surgical laser?
Soft Tissue Laser Surgery is different from Hard Tissue Laser Surgery (bones and teeth in dentistry) and Laser Eye Surgery (eye sight corrective surgeries) by particular types of lasers. Lasers differ from each other by the wavelength of light they produce. The most commonly used surgical laser in soft tissue surgery is the CO2 laser. The CO2 laser wavelength (10.6 micrometers) is highly absorbed by water contained in soft tissue. Because of its outstanding versatility and precision, the CO2 surgical laser is the most efficient and dominant soft tissue surgical laser since the 1960s. Laser surgery is widely practiced in many applications of human as well as veterinary medicine.
Laser surgery benefits for patients
Less Bleeding: As it cuts, the laser seals small blood vessels. This drastic reduction in bleeding enables a number of new surgical procedures that are not practical with conventional scalpel.
Less Pain: The CO2 laser beam seals nerve endings and lymphatics, resulting in less edema and pain. The patient experiences a far more comfortable post-operative recovery.
Reduced risk of infection: This is one of the unique features of the CO2 laser beam. It efficiently kills bacteria in its path, producing a sterilizing effect.
Quicker recovery time: Reduced risk of infection, less bleeding, less pain and less swelling often allow the patient a far quicker recovery after the surgery.
Laser surgery benefits for Veterinary Surgeons
Unique surgical capabilities: Laser surgery improves many surgical procedures by making them simpler and reducing risk. This enables surgeries that are not practical with conventional methods.
Enhanced visibility of the surgical field: The laser light seals capillaries and small blood vessels as it cuts, thereby dramatically reducing bleeding. This results in a much clearer and drier surgical site.
Increased precision and control: The focal spot size of the beam may be adjusted down to a small fraction of a millimeter or expanded for a much wider coverage. The laser power may be set for rapid removal of relatively large tissue amounts, or adjusted to remove only one cell layer at a time.
Reduction of surgery time: The hemostatic effect of the laser beam and the improved visibility of the surgical field often reduce the duration of the surgery.