Laser Ablation: All About this Surgical Technique

Laser ablation has become a relevant treatment for brain tumors and epilepsy. It also has other uses in medicine - find out more!
Laser Ablation: All About this Surgical Technique

Last update: 24 September, 2022

Laser ablation is a procedure that has several applications in industry. It’s also used as a surgical technique to treat different health problems. To be more precise, it’s applied in the treatment of skin conditions, in dentistry and to remove tumors, including in the brain.

One of its advantages over other interventions is that it isn’t invasive and patients have the possibility of returning to their routines within 48 hours. Are you interested in finding out more about it? Below we’ll tell you all about the process, what its benefits are, and whether there are any risks related to its use.

What is laser ablation and what’s it used for?

In medicine, laser ablation is an intervention that’s usually used in the treatment of epilepsy and brain tumors. As explained in an article published in the Journal of Functional Biomaterials , the method employs a laser and an instrument that transports its light into the tissue.

Specifically, the laser provides monochromatic light (emitted at a specific wavelength) which interacts with the tissue to be treated. The medium used is usually an optical fiber that’s responsible for applying the laser light into the organs.

The generation of heat in the tissues, and thus the effect of this procedure, is largely determined by the following factors:

  • The wavelength of the laser light
  • The laser configuration (power, energy, and treatment time)
  • The physical properties of the tissue
  • The emission characteristics of the optical applicator
Laser ablation.
In laser ablation, a wavelength is applied to the tissue to be treated. Its intensity varies according to the condition being treated.

Main uses

Epilepsy and brain tumors are usually treated with this method. Apart from this, scientific literature mentions other types of tumors, such as the following:

Among other things, as a surgical technique, it’s used in the field of dentistry for various endodontic procedures (pulp incision), periodontics (abscess treatment), dental cosmetics (whitening, depigmentation), among others.

Its use as a treatment for the following is also viable:

  • Herpes labialis
  • Aphthous ulcers
  • Hematomas
  • Varicose veins
  • Eliminate tattoos

What is the laser ablation procedure like?

The application of laser ablation as a surgical technique is a delicate procedure. First of all, it’s necessary to perform several tests for an accurate diagnosis. If it’s a tumor, then tests such as magnetic resonance imaging will have to be performed.

Once the decision is made to perform the treatment, the treatment date is set. As for prior preparation, this can vary and must be established by the medical team. When the day arrives, the patient is sedated and admitted to the operating room.

Once there -and if required- an incision must be made. This may occur, for example, in the case of a brain tumor. If so, it will be necessary to drill a hole in the skull.

Then, the probe with the laser is introduced and concentrated heat is applied to the area to be treated until the tissue is destroyed. At the same time, the medical team monitors the area to ensure that nearby tissues aren’t affected and to prevent bleeding or other complications.

You may also be interested in: Activated Carbon Laser Peel: Process and Care

Benefits and advantages of laser ablation

There are several benefits in terms of treatment and, of course, the results of laser ablation. And although it’s a somewhat complex technique, it also has advantages compared to other procedures.

In this regard, the following aspects stand out:

  • It allows you to treat various skin conditions, for example, pearly papules
  • It’s a less invasive technique
  • It isn’t necessary to make large incisions
  • In dentistry, the use of anesthesia is reduced
  • The patient experiences less pain
  • Relatively safer than traditional surgery, in terms of operative complications
  • The probe used can reach areas that are difficult to access
  • Shorter operating time, although this varies according to the health problem
  • Reduced risk of infection, since the wounds are small
Treating varicose veins.
Laser ablation is used in treatments against tumors, varicose veins and dental problems.

Possible risks and side effects

No major risks, damages, or side effects related to the use of laser ablation as a surgical technique have been reported. It’s said to have no harmful effects on other tissues. Although it’s a delicate procedure, there should be no side effects.

Of course, all this is achieved as long as it’s performed in adequate facilities, taking the corresponding measures for patient care, and that everything is performed by highly trained health professionals.

Among the few cases of undesirable effects, possible neurological consequences or lesions in the medium and long term are mentioned when laser therapy treatment is applied in twins with twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome.

A possible neurological affectation at 2 years of age is reported in 14% of cases, including motor and communication problems and even cerebral palsy.

Problems of cost and availability

So far, the biggest problems related to laser ablation derive from the fact that not all professionals have mastered the technique and not all health centers have the correct equipment. This, in turn, has an impact on another fundamental issue: its high cost. Therefore, apart from its benefits, the decision to apply (or not) this procedure may also be financial, and not only health-related.

In any case, when in doubt about the procedure, you should consult your doctor or specialist. They will determine if it’s recommended to apply it, as well as its costs. Everything depends on each particular case.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.