Not an office hour session passes in my practice that I am not asked about laser surgery. Due to widespread media coverage, lasers are now thought of by many people as the best way for surgeons to cut tissue during surgery. Unfortunately, this is a misconception. For most operations, traditional cutting methods provide better control for the surgeon and more precise and smaller scars. Where then, do lasers play a role?
One of the new and interesting uses of lasers is in skin resurfacing. Specifically, carbon dioxide lasers, pulsed at very high frequencies are now being used by my practice and by other local plastic surgeons instead of dermabrasion. By using such a laser, fine wrinkles around the mouth and eyelids can be markedly reduced with much less tissue destruction than seen with dermabrasion.
Removal of tatoos is another use of lasers. Different laser types are needed for various colors found in the average tatoo. Several surgical settings are frequently needed to eliminate a tatoo. Scarring tends to be less than with either traditional surgical excision or dermabrasion.
Lasers can also be used to treat red, vascular lesions such as port wine stains. Lifelong lesions can be dramatically reduced using laser surgery in a painless, outpatient setting.
Finally, lasers can be utilized to reduce age spots on hands and other locations on the body, so that a newly "lifted face" can have youthful hands to match. Who says that youth has to be wasted on the young?