Laser Surgery

Laser surgery is a type of surgery that uses special light beams instead of instruments for surgical procedures. (The word "laser" stands for "Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation.")

Lasers were first developed in 1960. Since that time, many modifications have been made and a number of different types of lasers have been developed. These differ in emitted light wavelengths and power ranges, as well as in their ability to clot, cut or vaporize tissue.

The most commonly used lasers for pediatric patients are:

  • Pulsed dye laser
  • Nd:YAG laser
  • CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser
  • Argon laser
  • KTP laser

Each works in a different manner and each is sometimes used as part of a treatment plan.

When the laser beam hits tissue, such as skin, a certain amount of light is reflected. The remaining light is absorbed or transmitted through the tissue. Absorbed light has specific effects, creating physical, mechanical, chemical, or temperature changes that result in desired treatment effects.

Although lasers offer no significant benefit over conventional techniques for many operations, there are some procedures and conditions in which they offer advantages and better clinical outcomes.

This is especially true for endoscopic procedures in which surgeons have limited access to confined areas within the body. Lasers permit highly localized, precise surgery with reduced blood loss. Moreover, a relatively dry operative field affords better vision.

Laser surgery is frequently used in treating pediatric patients with certain types of vascular lesions. It is also widely used for the treatment of many upper and middle airway disorders involving the larynx (voice box) and trachea (windpipe).

Last Updated 12/2013