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Laser therapy: reasons, procedure and risks

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 310 views

Laser therapy refers to the use of bundled light radiation in medicine. It is now used in many specialist areas, for example in the treatment of eye and skin diseases. Read everything about the process of laser therapy, when it is used and what risks it entails. 

What is laser therapy?

Laser therapy is the use of laser beams in the medical or cosmetic field. Laser beams are bundled and particularly high-energy light beams that are aimed at a specific part of the body during laser treatment and have an effect there.

Depending on the biological effect the laser beams are supposed to have on the tissue, the doctor changes the wavelength, intensity, pulse duration and pulse frequency of the laser.

There are different procedures:

  • Laser ablation (removal of tissue, e.g. with birthmark lasers)
  • Laser coagulation (thermally induced cell death)
  • Laser epilation (permanent hair removal)
  • laser phototherapy

When is laser therapy performed?

Laser therapy can be used to treat diseases and relieve symptoms, as well as for cosmetic reasons, such as scars or birthmarks.

Laser therapy for cosmetic reasons

Many patients have age spots or pigment spots lasered for aesthetic reasons . Other uses of laser therapy include:

  • superficial dilated, small vessels (telangiectasia)
  • Fold
  • unwanted hair growth
  • skin redness
  • scar
  • moles

lasik

How to use the laser in ophthalmology, read the text Lasik.

Laser therapy for skin diseases

Examples of medically justified laser treatments in dermatology are:

  • rosacea
  • birthmarks
  • cysts
  • Viral diseases ( e.g. genital warts or Kaposi’s sarcoma in HIV)
  • Malignant tumor diseases of the skin (e.g. basal cell carcinoma)
  • White callus disease (leukoplakia)
  • Cornification disorders (keratosis)
  • warts
  • fungal nail diseases
  • psoriasis

What do you do with laser therapy?

The processes of laser therapy differ depending on the procedure:

laser ablation

When removing tissue with a laser, the doctor uses either a so-called CO 2 laser or an erbium:YAG laser, directing the beam at the area to be treated. The uppermost cell layers absorb the high-energy light and the tissue evaporates. In this way, for example, warts can be lasered or scars can be lasered away.

Laser coagulation

Laser coagulation is mainly used in ophthalmology. The ophthalmologist uses the laser beams to generate heat in the tissue of the cornea or retina , which destroys the cells. Special cells of the immune system – so-called scavenger cells – then remove the dead tissue and the wound heals.

laser epilation

During laser hair removal, the doctor heats the hair root and the stem cell of the so-called hair bulge. He usually uses an infrared laser that penetrates the skin up to five millimeters deep. The heating of the hair-forming cells leads to their permanent obliteration, and the hair can no longer grow back. 

laser phototherapy

Especially in the case of psoriasis and vitiligo, the patient can be treated with laser phototherapy. For this purpose, the doctor usually uses the so-called excimer laser, which emits UVB waves. He directs these high-dose rays specifically at the affected skin areas. The neighboring healthy skin areas are spared.

What are the risks of laser therapy?

Laser therapy of the skin can cause problems, especially with laser ablation, since the skin is injured as a result of the ablation. The wound then serves, for example, as an entry point for germs and becomes infected. The treated area can also scar.

Special risks of laser therapy in ophthalmology are:

  • Multiple laser therapy in the absence of therapy success
  • impaired color vision
  • worse vision at dusk or in the dark
  • narrow field of view
  • Altered intraocular pressure, possibly with follow-up treatment
  • black holes in the field of vision (scotomas)

What do I have to consider after laser therapy?

How you should behave after your laser therapy depends on the type and reason for the treatment.

Post-laser treatment is very important. It can sometimes take several weeks. Your dermatologist or beautician will show you how to properly care for your skin.

After laser eye therapy, you must not drive a vehicle for at least 24 hours. After three months at the latest, an ophthalmological check-up is recommended to check the success of the treatment. If you notice any symptoms or abnormalities after the treatment, it is advisable to consult your ophthalmologist at an early stage. 

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