Laser Technology in Medicine and Its Future.

by Joy Festus
5mins read

Laser technology has been around for more than 3 decades but only a few know about its existence and application in body treatment. This article vividly describes its history and applications in medicine.

History of Laser

A laser is a beam of light. Unlike regular sunlight, it has a single wavelength.  Laser Technology was invented in 1960 by Theodore H.Maiman. However, its applications today are as a result of a number of prestigious scientists, like Albert Einstein, Charles Hard Townes, Arthur Leonard and the rest . The acronym LASER represents “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. During Theodore’s experiment, he found out that his laser by a great power source excited atoms in an artificial ruby to higher energy levels, at the same time it produced photons by the emission of light particles at different energy levels. LASER is the successor of MASER (Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation).

Types of Laser

1. Gas laser: CO2 laser, it is the most common laser type. Argon is used in treating problems and sealing blood vessels and nerves.

2.Solid laser: it uses solids like glass , fiber, semi-conductor as source of optical gain.
3. Liquid laser: dye laser is the most popular example.

Present Applications of Laser Technology in Medicine.

1. Dermatology

Laser science has positively affected the dermatology sector as modern techniques enable the treatment of various skin disease which were impossible in time past. Skin problems are now solved such as:

  •  The removal of unwanted tattoos, acne and dark circles.
  • The removal of wrinkles, birthmarks and burns.
  • Stimulation of the production of natural collagen for anti-ageing.
  • Scalp disease treatment.
Laser tech application in cosmetic surgery

Illustration of laser in facial plastic surgery.

2. Cosmetic surgery
Laser treatment is very profitable to plastic surgery. It is applied in nose surgery, liposuction, breast implant , vascular lesions, facial hair removal, abdominal plasty, pigmented lesions and skin tightening. Laser skin resurfacing is used by plastic surgeons. The surgeon sends short light beam at irregular skin. It can be used to improve liver spots and measles scars.

3. Opthalmology
This is one of the most useful areas where laser is applied. It is used to treat eye diseases, defects of eye membrane and vision correction.

4. Cancer Diagnosis
Laser technology is applied in cancer therapy through narrow and intense heat incision by the surgeon to destroy cancer and tumor cells by shrinkage or by activation of photosensitive agents. It is given through an endoscope inserted at the openings of the body like the anus, vagina, nose and mouth. The CO2 lasers , argon lasers and Nd: YAG (Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet) lasers are the types of lasers used in cancer treatment.

5. Dental Healthcare
Teeth and gum treatment of benign and malignant tumours , dental pigmentation, dental caries and adjustment of teeth now make use of laser technology.

Laser tech in Medicine

Illustration of Laser application in dental healthcare

Future Application

1. Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)
PDT is a treatment that uses special drugs with photosensitive agents and light to kills cancer cells. Photo radiation therapy side effects has restricted is usage but it is believed the nearest years to come that researchers would have developed remedies that can prevent the skin changes, swellings, pains and immune system changes caused by it.

2. In vivo Microscopy

This procedure provides a physician with a virtual biopsy examination even to cellular level. It is used in genetic and epigenetics studies.

3. Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT)
Optical coherence tomography is an emerging laser technology for biomedical imaging. It corresponds to Ultra-sound imaging but the difference is that it uses light instead of  sound. The OCT image produced provides a cross-sectional view of the retina with detailed structures. For aged people at risk of developing certain eye diseases, OCT is a preventive medication. More clinical studies have been performed on the use of OCT for glaucoma, edema, age related eye diseases , optic discs etc.

Benefits of Laser Technology in Medicine.

1. Laser treatment reduces operating time and cutting damage to healthy tissues.

2. Brings about shorter healing time.

3. It brings about precise incision.

4. It seals the operation cuts and reduce pains.

Conclusion: The current limitation of Laser technology in medicine is the finance aspect as various health care centers cannot afford its equipments, but it is believed that science advances will bring about a reduction in cost as time goes.

Laser Technology in medicine

Image credit: upsplash

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