Long used in a number of medical specialties, lasers offer a minimally invasive way to treat a variety of benign and malignant conditions. Otolaryngology-head and neck surgery is one of the first areas of surgery to successfully employ a number of types of lasers for medical and cosmetic purposes.
Explore this issue:April 2007
Using light energy or photons to produce a tissue effect, a laser (which is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), consists of three main components: lasing medium, which is either gas or solid; power or excitation source; and mirrors. Popular perception of lasers in otolaryngology may focus on their cosmetic benefit-to resurface a face, reshape a nose-but lasers are more than smoke and mirrors. Their benefit to treat a wide range of benign and malignant otolaryngological conditions is well documented in many studies that show the superiority of lasers over other surgical techniques in terms of hemostatis and edema, in their potential to reduce wound infection, and in their ability to induce less scarring and improve wound healing because of the minimal damage done to surrounding tissue.
-Peter C. Belafsky, MD, MPH, PhD