Laser surgery

Alternative names
Surgery using laser

Laser surgery uses a laser light source to remove diseased tissues or treat bleeding blood vessels. The laser may also be used for cosmetic purposes, including removal of wrinkles, tattoos, or birthmarks.

A laser is a light beam that can be precisely focused. It is used to treat tissues by heating the targeted cells until they “burst”.

There are several types of lasers, including the carbon dioxide (CO2) laser, the YAG (yttrium aluminum garnet) laser, and the pulsed dye laser. Each laser has specific uses. The color of the laser (light beam) used is directly related to the type of surgery being performed and the color of the tissue being treated.

Laser surgery can be used to:

  • Remove tumors (brain, liver)       o With minimal damage to surrounding healthy tissue       o With minimal scarring  
  • Seal small blood vessels to reduce blood loss  
  • Seal lymph vessels to reduce swelling and decrease the spread of tumor cells  
  • Seal nerve endings to reduce postoperative pain  
  • Remove warts, moles, and tattoos  
  • Reduce the appearance of skin wrinkles


As with any type of surgery, laser surgery is not without risks. Possible problems include incomplete treatment of the problem, pain, infection, bleeding, scarring, and skin color changes.

Some laser surgery is performed under general anesthesia. Be sure to discuss the risks of general anesthesia with your anesthesiologist.

Expectations after surgery
Your outcome and recovery period will vary significantly, depending on the condition being treated. Always consult your health care provider about your prognosis and recovery period before surgery.

The amount of time it takes to recover from surgery depends on the surgery and on the individual. Based on an evaluation of your health status prior to surgery, your health care provider can give you a good estimate of the recovery time.

Johns Hopkins patient information

Last revised: December 4, 2012
by Harutyun Medina, M.D.

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All ArmMed Media material is provided for information only and is neither advice nor a substitute for proper medical care. Consult a qualified healthcare professional who understands your particular history for individual concerns.