Going to the doctor can be intimidating enough, but some of us appear to want to make it as scary as possible for you. Whether it’s scalpels, drills or those little reflex hammers, many physicians have a full complement of tools that resemble weapons. Well, you’ll be glad to learn that a great many medical procedures now make use of the weapon of the future: lasers!
All kidding aside, dermatological lasers are completely safe and used for a variety of treatments, both cosmetic and otherwise. It might be a little off putting to know that we’re aiming those focused light beams at your skin, but their therapeutic uses make them a great tool for getting your skin to look it’s best. When used by knowledgeable technicians or doctors, there’s no more risk to getting laser treatments than there is walking down the street.
Lasers were first conceived by Albert Einstein (was there anything that guy couldn’t do?) in 1917. While his ideas were impressive, they couldn’t be fully implemented until the late 1950s. By then, the technology was more fully conceptualized and prototypes were built in Bell Labs. At the same time as this, a Columbia University graduate student named Gordon Gould coined the name Laser, an acronym standing for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
Since then, lasers have found a number of uses both practical and recreational. To list all of their applications would be a whole different piece, but suffice it to say that they’ve become an indispensable part of the modern world. From cat toys to military operations, there are a multitude of varied industries that have been moved forward by laser technology.
For our medical purposes, there are several advantages to using lasers over traditional surgical scalpels. For one, the laser produces a consistent stream of heat, ensuring that your surgeon will never cut too deeply. There’s also less pain and swelling associated with use of lasers, since they don’t leave loose nerve ends the way scalpels do. Similarly, there’s less risk of bleeding and infection because of the laser’s precision-guided heat.
Another impressive factor of the dermatologist’s laser is the variety of skin treatments it makes possible. More than simply cutting like a scalpel, lasers can perform a number of treatments that previously needed intensive and often very painful treatment. For cosmetic purposes it can remove unwanted tattoos, hair, birthmarks, acne, cellulite, and damaged skin. In some cases, it can even improve treatment of certain skin cancers. The laser has quickly become an indispensable tool for the modern dermatologist.
Even with all their benefits, there are of course still important precautions your doctor needs to be taking when using lasers in your treatment. All parts of your body (especially your eyes) not being treated need to be kept away from the laser apparatus. There’s also risk of fire if the technician lets the beam sit too long on any flammable materials, so those should be kept secure while in the operating room. Any makeup or skin lotions you have on should be removed to prevent them from interfering with the procedure.
But mostly, the hazard of laser use in medical procedures is similar to other tools: they can be dangerous only if misused. Federal and international standards exist for the safe use of medical lasers, so be sure your physician is aware of and follows these protocols. As long as you’re being treated by a trustworthy, certified and experienced laser technician there will be very little to worry about.
For information about laser therapies we offer at The Dermatology Specialists, including hair, mole and tattoo removal, skin resurfacing and the highly versatile fractional CO2 treatment, call or visit ZocDoc to make an appointment today!