What is laser treatment?
Lasers have many uses as a medical treatment, and can be used to cut, burn or destroy tissue. It’s applications in the medical world include cutting tissue during surgical procedures, reshaping the cornea to improve sight during laser eye surgery, burning away cavities and whitening teeth, removing hair, clearing arteries, and removing wrinkles, tattoos, varicose veins and many other unwanted things.
A laser (meaning ‘Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation’) is a very intense light that can produce permanent effects when applied to a surface. It produces a very narrow beam of light which is useful in many technologies, and specifically in medical applications.
What are the medical applications of laser?
Laser has many different applications in medicine, some of the most common medical procedures using laser include:
- Laser surgery – This is a type of surgery that uses the laser rather than a scalpel to make bloodless cuts in the tissue, or to remove things such as tumours from the surface of the tissue. A number of different types of laser can be used in surgery, depending on the requirements and the type of surgery. The most common types include CO2 laser, pulsed-dye laser, argon laser, excimer laser and diode laser.
- Laser skin treatment – Laser has been used in dermatology for many years, and there are numerous ways it can be applied. Lasers can be used to treat vascular conditions such as thread veins, varicose veins and spider veins, where the laser is used to burn away the veins or to shrink the veinous tissues.
- Lasers are also used to treat skin pigmentation issues such as birthmarks, sun spots and freckles, and it can be used to rejuvenate the skin and remove unwanted marks such as acne scars. It is now common practise for lasers to be used to remove unwanted tattoos.
- Laser hair removal – The removal of unwanted hair on the face and body is a common procedure using lasers. The laser emits a green light that is absorbed into the hair follicle and destroys the hair. The surrounding skin is unharmed.
- Laser eye surgery – Corrective eye surgery using lasers is now almost as common as having contact lenses. The surgery involves reshaping the cornea, either by flattening or by increasing the curvature, to correct the vision. Lasers can also be used to repair damage to the eye such as a detached retina.
- Laser teeth whitening – Lasers are used in dentistry in a number of ways, most commonly, they are used alongside a bleaching agent to whiten the teeth. The bleach is applied to the teeth, and the laser is used to heat the bleach and speed up the bleaching process.
- Lasers are more becoming more commonly used in place of a drill to remove the material that forms in a cavity, so that the tooth can be filled. This adds benefits as many people do not like the sound of the drill, the laser can also seal blood vessels leading to decreased bleeding when a laser is used compared with a drill.
- Clearing arteries using lasers - Lasers are increasingly being applied to clear plaque from people’s arteries. The laser is fed through the patients arteries, usually from a small incision in the groin, and moved to the correct position where there is a blockage in the artery. The laser can then burn away the fatty plaque, helping to increase blood flow.