What is a Carbon Dioxide Laser?
The word LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. In a Carbon Dioxide Laser, an electrical current is passed through a mixture of several gases, including Carbon Dioxide. The current oscillates very quickly from positive to negative, and excites the Carbon Dioxide molecules, causing them to shed the extra energy as a photon of light. This light, which is infrared light, can then be focused into a beam and used for multiple applications. High energy Carbon Dioxide Lasers are often used in manufacturing and industrial applications, and low energy lasers are used for surgical procedures
Why is a Carbon Dioxide Laser one of the best for surgery?
Carbon Dioxide Lasers work very well for soft tissue surgical procedures because the specific type (wavelength) of the infrared light produced by the laser is absorbed very well by the water in the tissue (soft tissue is mostly water). During surgery, the target tissue is vaporized very efficiently by the laser beam. The energy absorption of the tissue is so efficient that the energy only penetrates about 0.1 mm into the adjacent tissue, regardless of the depth of the cut. This allows very precise control by the surgeon, and very little soft tissue damage.
Also, there is usually very little bleeding at the surgery site, less pain associated with most simple procedures, and the surgical site usually heals very quickly.
What types of procedures can be performed with a Carbon Dioxide Laser?
The Carbon Dioxide Laser has many medical uses including removal of skin lesions, skin resurfacing, dermabrasion, and gynecological procedures. There are also many Oral Surgery procedures that can be performed safely and easily, usually with less overall risk in comparison to non-laser surgical procedures, utilizing a Carbon Dioxide Laser.
Oral Surgery Procedures that frequently include the use of a Carbon Dioxide Laser include:
- Removal of abnormal growths or lesions in the mouth, including the gums, palate and tongue (both benign and cancerous lesions)
- Removal of lesions or growths on the lips or skin of the face
- Ablation (superficial removal) of benign lesions or scars
- Ablative surgery of vascular lesions
- Removal of Mucous Retention Cysts (Mucoceles)
- Surgical removal of minor salivary gland lesions or tumors, and lesions or scarring associated with the salivary ducts
- Frenectomies or Frenotomies (such as, releasing a “tongue tie”)
- Gingival surgery, such as removal of overgrown (hyperplastic) gum tissue
- Esthetic gum surgery (gingivoplasty)
- Palliative treatment of painful oral ulcers
What risks are involved in Laser surgery?
In general, laser surgery is very safe and has fewer complications associated with it in comparison to other forms of minor surgical procedures when utilized by a trained and experienced surgeon. However, a laser must be used in a safe fashion to avoid associated risks to the patient, surgeon, and medical staff. The staff and surgeon will always wear laser safety glasses during a laser surgery. The patient’s eyes must remain completely closed, or the patient must wear safety glasses while a laser is being used. Also, the area of the surgery will be isolated to protect the surrounding tissue and teeth. Moist gauze is a very effective barrier to low energy Carbon Dioxide lasers, and may be placed over the lips, gums, teeth or tongue during surgery to avoid inadvertent damage to those areas.