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Laser surgery - skin

Definition

Laser surgery uses laser light to remove diseased tissues or treat bleeding blood vessels. Laser surgery may also be used to remove wrinkles, sunspots, tattoos, or birthmarks.

Alternative Names

Surgery using a laser

Description

A laser is a light beam that can be focused on a very small area. The laser heats cells in the area being treated until they "burst."

There are several types of lasers. Each laser has specific uses. The color of the light beam used is directly related to the type of surgery being performed and the color of the tissue being treated. Types of lasers include the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, the YAG (yttrium aluminum garnet) laser, alexandrite, KTP, and the pulsed dye laser.

Why the Procedure Is Performed

Laser surgery can be used to:

  • Close small blood vessels to reduce blood loss
  • Remove warts, moles, sunspots, and tattoos
  • Reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles, scars, and other skin blemishes
  • Remove dilated blood vessels from the face
  • Remove hair
  • Remove skin cells that could turn into cancer (actinic keratoses)

Risks

Possible risks of laser surgery include:

  • Cold sores if herpes simplex virus is already present
  • Bleeding
  • Problem not going away
  • Infection
  • Pain
  • Scarring
  • Skin color changes

Some laser surgery is done when you are asleep and pain free (general anesthesia). Talk to your health care provider about risks of laser surgery

After the Procedure

The success of laser surgery depends on the condition being treated. Talk to your health care provider about what you can expect. 

You may need to keep the skin moisturized and away from sun after treatment.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Recovery time depends on the surgery and your overall health. Your health care provider let you know before surgery the  recovery time you should need.

References

Tung R, Vidimos A. Nonmelanoma skin cancer. In: Carey WD. Cleveland Clinic: Current Clinical Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010.

Cutaneous Laser Surgery. In: James WD, Berger TG, Elston DM, eds. Andrews' Diseases of
the Skin: Clinical Dermatology.
11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 38.



 


Review Date: 11/20/2012
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, David R. Eltz, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.
The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites. © 1997- A.D.A.M., Inc. Any duplication or distribution of the information contained herein is strictly prohibited.
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