Laser surgery - skin
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.
Surgery using a laser
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)
Possible risks of laser surgery include:
- Cold sores if herpes simplex virus is already present
- Problem not going away
- 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.
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.
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 ofthe Skin: Clinical Dermatology. 11th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 38.
Last reviewed 11/20/2012 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.
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