Surgical lasers have become an essential tool in the modern surgeon’s repertoire in both human and veterinary medicine. The mainstream adoption of the surgical laser has improved the efficacy of a variety of procedures through the replacement of scalpels and electrosurgical units, benefiting both patients and surgeons. This well-proven technology has been used by medical professionals since the 1960s and veterinarians worldwide are adopting it to improve the quality of care they can provide to their patients.
The surgical laser functions by generating an intense beam of light that can cut, seal, or ablate tissue depending on the power density and energy level chosen by the surgeon. The high level of control provided by the laser allows surgeons to make extremely precise tissue incisions that are well-suited to whatever procedure is being carried out. Among pet owners, the most widely recognized procedure that uses the surgical laser is feline laser declawing. Other procedures that use the surgical laser include cyst, tumor and wart removal and specialized internal procedures.
There are a wide variety of lasers used in the medical field, each with different applications. The primary type of laser used in soft tissue surgery for small animals is called a carbon dioxide laser (CO2 laser). The CO2 laser emits a colorless, infrared beam of light at a wavelength of 10,600 microns. This wavelength is used because water, which is the main constituent of cells, absorbs this frequency very well. Some of the benefits of using the CO2 laser include:
- Less Pain: CO2 lasers greatly reduce the pain that patients feel during and after surgery because the laser beam seals nerve endings as it cuts through tissue.
- Less Bleeding: The CO2 laser beam cauterizes and seals small blood vessels as it works, which reduces bleeding. In many cases, the laser beam will completely stop bleeding, increasing the visibility of the tissue for the surgeon during the procedure.
- Less Trauma: CO2 lasers eliminate the tearing and bruising of tissue associated with traditional surgical instruments, like scalpels, because they do not make direct contact with the tissue. The laser also seals lymphatic vessels, which reduces swelling.
- Lower Chance of Infection: The CO2 laser beam incinerates microorganisms that could cause infection in the patient’s exposed tissue. This means that the CO2 laser is essentially an antibacterial agent, which improves the overall sterility of the surgical field.
- High Precision: The precise technology of the CO2 laser gives surgeons a huge amount of control over the type of incisions they make in the patient’s tissue, compared to traditional instruments like the scalpel. This results in safer procedures.
- Fast Recovery: Taking all the above factors into account, we get the most important result–a quicker recovery for the patient.
The use of laser technology in your pet’s next medical procedure will help your pet recover quicker and return home sooner. At Towne Center Animal Hospital, we are equipped with a state-of-the-art CO2 surgical laser (pictured above). Dr. Z uses the CO2 laser for a variety of procedures to improve patient comfort and ensure speedy recovery, because caring for your pet is our number one priority!