What is laser surgery? “Laser” is an acronym for Light Activation by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. We use concentrated light sources as a surgical tool. Einstein developed the theory in the 1920s and it has taken this long to perfect the art, science and equipment to the point of being practical in veterinary medicine.
Many different types of lasers have had applications in both human and veterinary medicine, with CO2 (carbon dioxide) the most practical for treating dogs and cats. Simply stated, the energy created by the carbon dioxide laser is absorbed by the water of the tissues we are using it on (remember, our bodies are made up of nearly two-thirds water). It vaporizes this water, allowing us to remove the tissue that the laser has struck. The great thing is that, because the laser has virtually no effect on the surrounding tissues, we can easily pinpoint the area on which we wish to operate.
In addition to being very accurate without disturbing healthy tissue, the laser has many other attributes:
– The laser never has to touch the tissue. This makes for much less tissue trauma.
– Bleeding is markedly reduced. This is always of great benefit in surgical situations.
– There is minimal swelling.
– Surgical time is greatly reduced.
– Pain is also markedly decreased.
The list of possible procedures that can benefit from the advent of the laser is growing every day. Veterinarians around the country are using it for some of the more commonplace procedures, as well as the more dramatic surgeries we encounter. Here is a short list of the types of procedures that may be familiar to you as a pet owner:
– Spays and neuters
– Declaws. This is one of the most frequent uses of the laser. The pain reduction is remarkable.
– Ear surgeries, especially for those dogs with chronic ear infections that require reconstructive-type surgeries.
– Eye and eyelid surgeries
– Oral surgery
– Lick granulomas
– Lump or tumor removals
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