A laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) is a technology that emits a special kind of intense light
A laser (light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) is a technology that emits a special kind of intense light that travels in a narrow beam. Laser therapy in medicine uses this strong beam of light to cut, burn, or destroy body tissue. Unlike X-rays, lasers are non-ionizing radiations, which means they will not cause cancers on long-term exposure. Lasers are now being widely used in various medical procedures including dermatology, plastic surgery, wound healing, nerve stimulation, dentistry, ophthalmology, and many other therapeutic and surgical procedures. The lasers used in medicine are United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA) approved.
Applications of laser therapy
Lasers can be used for many medical purposes. They are more precise and less invasive than traditional surgical instruments. Because the laser beam is so small and precise, it allows health care providers to safely treat tissue without injuring the surrounding area. The important clinical applications of lasers are:
- Shrink or destroy tumors, polyps, and precancerous growths in the body.
- Repair a detached retina or a small retinal hole and improve vision.
- Treat varicose veins, remove kidney stones, and prostate.
- Seal ruptured blood vessels to prevent blood loss, nerve endings to reduce pain, and lymph vessels. Also, it is used to reduce swelling.
- Used cosmetically to remove warts, moles, hair, sunspots, tattoos, and lessen the appearance of wrinkles and scars.
- Used in dentistry for teeth whitening and various gum surgeries.
Risks of laser in medicine
The laser light beam does not pose major health risks to the patient or medical team. Certain precautions would be taken by the doctor to use the laser safely, such as eye protection during the procedure. The procedure required a specialized operation room (OR) set-up to prevent laser beams to reflect and cause complications. Laser treatment otherwise has the same risks as open surgeries. However, the recovery time from laser surgery is usually faster than recovery from open surgery. Some health or skin conditions may be aggravated by laser surgeries. Other risks include:
- Changes in skin color
- Localized burns
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Medically Reviewed on 3/10/2021
United States Food and Drug Administration. Medical Lasers. https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/surgical-and-therapeutic-products/medical-lasers
Science Direct. Laser Medicine. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/neuroscience/laser-medicine