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Patient Education


Patient Education - Lung Cancer Program at UCLA

Educating yourself about lung cancer:

Therapy: Laser surgery

A laser is used for many medical purposes. Because the laser beam is so small and precise, it enables physicians to safely treat specific tissue without injuring surrounding tissue. Some uses of the laser are retinal surgery, excision of lesions, and cauterization of vascular structures.Laser surgery

Definition

Laser surgery uses a laser light source to remove diseased tissues or treat bleeding blood vessels. The laser may also be used for cosmetic purposes, including removal of wrinkles, tattoos, or birthmarks.

Alternative Names

Surgery using laser

Description

A laser is a light beam that can be precisely focused. It is used to treat tissues by heating the targeted cells until they "burst."

There are several types of lasers, including the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, the YAG (yttrium aluminum garnet) laser, and the pulsed dye laser. 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.

Why the Procedure is Performed

  • Laser surgery can be used to:
  • Remove tumors (brain, liver)
  • With minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue
  • With minimal scarring
  • Seal small blood vessels to reduce blood loss
  • Seal lymph vessels to reduce swelling and decrease the spread of tumor cells
  • Seal nerve endings to reduce postoperative pain
  • Remove warts, moles, and tattoos
  • Reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles, scars, and other skin blemishes
  • Remove hair

Risks

As with any type of surgery, laser surgery is not without risks. Possible problems include incomplete treatment of the problem, pain, infection, bleeding, scarring, and skin color changes.

Some laser surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Be sure to discuss the risks of general anesthesia with your anesthesiologist.

Outlook (Prognosis)

Your outcome and recovery period will vary significantly, depending on the condition being treated. Always consult your health care provider about your prognosis and recovery period before surgery.

Recovery

The amount of time it takes to recover from surgery depends on the surgery and on the individual. Based on an evaluation of your health status prior to surgery, your health care provider can give you a good estimate of the recovery time.


Review Date: 10/16/2006
Reviewed By: Kevin Berman, MD, PhD, Associate, Atlanta Center for Dermatologic Disease, Atlanta, GA. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network.

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