Carbon dioxide (CO2) laser technology has proven to be highly successful in the treatment of some skin cancers. For the layperson, delving into a few basics of the underlying science may aid in gaining an understanding of how the process works.
Laser Defined And What It Can Do
LASER is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser light differs from ordinary bulbs or sunlight in that it has only a single wavelength; bulbs and the sun produce light comprised of many wavelengths. Their brightness also spreads in all directions, whereas laser light may be focused in a narrow beam. Its energized, high-intensity light, along with the limited focusing capability, endows a laser device with power and precision.
Laser beams, while strong enough to cut through steel or shape diamonds, have the remarkable precision to perform delicate surgical procedures. From repairing an injured retina to excising a pre-cancerous mole, specialized surgeons have been allowed to substitute the mechanical constraints of the scalpel for the exactitude of the laser beam.
A gas, liquid, solid, or electronic substance is used to create the light of a laser. The content used is the name by which the laser becomes identified. Thus, the laser labeled CO2 acknowledges the gas by which it was made into a viable device. Today, the CO2 laser is one of the three kinds of lasers that are extensively used in cancer treatment.
Specifics Of The CO2 Laser’s Use
Primarily a surgical instrument, this type of laser is referred to as an ablative one because it is used to remove something; in this sense, thin layers from the surface of skin. Since the laser can cut without penetrating the skin’s deeper layers, it is especially advantageous in removing superficial benign or pre-cancerous tumors. Additionally, laser heat seals blood vessels simultaneous to the cutting, thereby decreasing bleeding, swelling, and pain. This sealing and cutting capability is presented when a surgeon focuses the beam. In an unfocused setting, the laser vaporizes outer skin layers allowing the offending growth to be removed.
Advantages To Patients
The features of the CO2 laser can be a real boon to patients, for the overall healing time is generally shorter. Also, because the laser is less invasive to the body with smaller incisions, scarring is negligible, allaying possible cosmetic concerns. A final benefit is that laser surgery can often be performed on an outpatient basis. People usually heal better within the comforts of home.