Are Lasers the Future of Surgery?

You may be familiar with laser surgery as a treatment for nearsightedness, farsightedness, or astigmatism — but lasers are now used in far more than eye surgery. From tonsillectomies to cosmetic surgery, surgeons are now routinely using laser equipment for a number of procedures. In many cases, operations performed with lasers can boast both less pain and diminished recovery time.

What advantages do lasers pose to surgeons?

Surgical lasers have several purposes. They can be used to create a precise cutting beam that can serve as a substitute for a scalpel. They can also be used to generate enough heat to cauterize capillaries or burn off growths. This ability to cauterize while cutting can dramatically minimize blood loss, reducing the risk of surgical complications and diminishing recovery time (as well as potentially diminishing the buildup of scar tissue).

Lasers are also safer for surgeons, nurses, and other healthcare personnel who come into contact with blood and other bodily fluids. A number of healthcare worker's compensation claims stem from an accidental nick with a scalpel blade or accidental needle stick. Using lasers reduces the amount of physical contact the surgeon and nurses have with the patient, therefore reducing the risk of injury or blood-borne illness.

What types of operations are now performed with lasers?

There are now a number of operations that are more accurately and safely performed with lasers than performed by traditional methods. These surgeries include

  • Spinal surgery
    • One of the most serious and painful operations involves the removal of scar tissue or bone spurs from the spinal column. Rather than perform open-back surgery, many doctors now make a tiny incision in the skin, then guide a laser into the spine using an X-ray machine to locate the correct treatment spot.
  • Tonsillectomy
    • Unlike traditional tonsillectomies, which involve the surgical removal of the entire tonsil, laser tonsillectomies simply reduce the size of the tonsils while still retaining them in the upper throat. Because tonsils do carry some disease-fighting microorganisms, this option is generally considered both healthier and less invasive for most patients.
  • Toenail fungus
    • Laser treatment is now even available for non-surgical procedures. By applying lasers to the surface of the toe, the toenail fungus spores are incinerated and unable to spread. The other commercially available treatment for toenail fungus involves a long course of oral antifungal medication, so many patients feel that laser surgery is preferable.

Talk to a professional like Eastern Carolina Ear Nose & Throat-Head for more information.