Laser therapy is a medical treatment that uses a strong beam of light to cut, burn, or destroy tissue. The term LASER stands for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation."
The laser light beam does not pose health risks to the patient or medical team. Laser treatment has the same risks as open surgery, including pain, bleeding, and scarring. But recovery time from laser surgery is usually faster than recovery from open surgery.
Lasers can be used for many medical purposes. Because the laser beam is so small and precise, it allows health care providers to safely treat tissue without injuring the surrounding area.
Lasers are often used to:
- Treat varicose veins
- Improve vision during eye surgery on the cornea
- Repair a detached retina of the eye
- Remove the prostate
- Remove kidney stones
- Remove tumors
Lasers are also often used during skin surgery.
Atebara NH, Thall EH. Principles of lasers. In: Yanoff M, Duker JS, eds. Ophthalmology. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Mosby; 2014:chap 2.4.
Neumayer L, Vargo D. Principles of preoperative and operative surgery: surgical devices and energy sources. In: Townsend CM, Beauchamp RD, Evers BM, Mattox KL, eds. Sabiston Textbook of Surgery. 19th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 11.
Sakamoto FH, Avram MM, Anderson RR. Lasers and other energy technologies: principles and skin interactions. In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Schaffer JV, eds. Dermatology. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 136.
Review Date 7/28/2015
Updated by: Debra G. Wechter, MD, FACS, general surgery practice specializing in breast cancer, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.