Definition A laser is a special high-energy beam of light that can be used to treat certain conditions.
What is the information for this topic? There are several types of lasers, each with different properties. They are used to treat disease in a variety of ways. Some devices can be used to cut into tissue. Others work by vaporising thin layers of tissue.
Lasers are commonly used to perform surgery on the skin. Laser procedures can be used to remove wrinkles, tattoos, birthmarks, tumours and warts. Other types of growths can also be removed.
Lasers are also used to treat eye conditions. In some individuals, vision problems can be corrected with laser surgery. Lasers can also be used to treat some forms of glaucoma and eye problems related to diabetes.
Lasers are being incorporated into surgical procedures on other parts of the body, as well. These include the heart, prostate gland, and throat. Lasers are also used to open clogged arteries and remove blockages caused by tumours. Currently, lasers are only used in part of these operations. This may change as laser technology improves. Knives and scalpels may be completely eliminated one day.
Lasers have the advantages of increased precision and reduced rates of infection and bleeding. Computers are used to control the intensity and direction of the laser beam. This helps reduce human error.
Like any surgery, however, laser surgery can have complications. A person still runs the risk of bleeding and infection from the surgery or a reactions to the anaesthetic. Specific risks depend on the surgery being performed.
Author: Adam Brochert, MD Reviewer: eknowhow Medical Review Panel Editor: Dr John Hearne Last Updated: 22/11/2004 Contributors Potential conflict of interest information for reviewers available on request
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