Laser stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Laser beams are different from visual light (e.g. light bulb emission) because the light beam is focused on a specific point increasing the power of it. The most common type of laser surgery uses laser radiation emitted by carbon dioxide. Laser surgery is used to burn, cut or destroy tissue in a very precise way.
Low-level laser is a different type of laser application which involves the use of low power. It is used to alter the cell function without destroying the tissue for soft tissue rehabilitation.
Laser surgery has been used for years in human medicine, dermatology in particular, as an alternative to surgical procedures. This is especially true for cosmetic surgery. In veterinary medicine, laser surgery is used for a variety of superficial (cutaneous) lesions.
What are the benefits of laser surgery?
Laser surgery has many benefits over classic surgery. The most important of those include faster healing, less blood loss (controlled bleeding), sterilization of the tissue (reduced risk of infection) and less post-surgical pain (quicker recovery time). General anesthesia is not needed for some procedures. Another benefit of laser is also the possibility to operate on lesions in locations that would require a longer follow-up (e.g. paws). The benefits of laser surgery are quite impressive. In fact, most patients are able to walk normally right after surgery with minimal or no pain.
What can be treated with laser surgery?
Many dermatological conditions can be treated with laser surgery. Some examples include acral lick granuloma ablation, cutaneous masses, skin tags, follicular cysts and tumors, gingival hyperplasia and epulis, hyperkeratosis of digital pads/nasal planum, hemostasis, benign melanoma, inclusion cysts, papillomas, pigmented viral plaques, actinic keratosis, pinnal tumors, pinnal tumors, feline ceruminous cystomatosis, calcinosis circumscripta, squamous cell carcinoma removal and nodular sebaceous hyperplasia.
Dr. Santoro became a boarded certified veterinary dermatologist in 2010. During his residency at the University of Illinois, the use of surgical laser and cryosurgery was part of his training. He has performed numerous laser surgeries on dogs, cats and horses. Amongst others, the most common procedures that Dr. Santoro has performed using CO2 surgical laser (or cryosurgery) include removal of cutaneous masses of diverse origin, footpad neoplasia and/or hyperkeratosis, aural cystomatosis, equine sarcoids and lick granulomas.