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Laser surgery is a type of surgery that uses special light beams instead of instruments for surgical procedures. LASER stands for "Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation." Lasers were first developed in 1960.
Newer laser modifications continue to have a large impact on medical and surgical practices. A large part of their impact has been seen in the treatment of various skin lesion and diseases.
What types of surgeries use lasers?
There are many indications for the use of lasers in surgery. The following are some of the more common indications:
To remove tumors
To help prevent blood loss by sealing small blood vessels
To seal lymph vessels to help decrease swelling and decrease the spread of tumor cells
To treat some skin conditions, including to remove or improve warts, moles, tattoos, birthmarks, scars, and wrinkles
How are lasers used during cancer surgery?
Laser surgery is a type of surgery that uses special light beams instead of instruments, such as scapels, to perform surgical procedures. There are several different types of lasers, each with characteristics that perform specific functions during surgery. Laser light can be delivered either continuously or intermittently and can be used with fiber optics to treat areas of the body that are often difficult to access. The following are some of the different types of laser used for cancer treatment:
Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers: Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers can remove a very thin layer of tissue from the surface of the skin without removing deeper layers. The CO2 laser may be used to remove skin cancers and some precancerous cells.
Neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers: Neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers can penetrate deeper into tissue and can cause blood to clot quickly. The laser light can be carried through optical fibers to reach less accessible internal parts of the body. For example, the Nd:YAG laser can be used to treat throat cancer.
Laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy (LITT): Laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy (LITT) uses lasers to heat certain areas of the body. The lasers are directed to areas between organs (interstitial areas) that are near a tumor. The heat from the laser increases the temperature of the tumor, thereby shrinking, damaging, or destroying the cancer cells.
Argon lasers: Argon lasers pass only through superficial layers of tissue such as skin. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses argon laser light to activate chemicals in the cancer cells.