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Dr. Ebtisam Al Alawi  | Kids Eye Care  | Eye Care Myths & facts  |  Why Visit Eye Center  | For Professional Use
Surgery | Laser Surgery
The word "laser" is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A laser is a concentrated beam of light, created when an electrical current passes through a special material. Used in eye surgery since the 1970's, the laser is popular for its unparalleled degree of precision and predictability. Lasers are being used for an increasing variety of eye diseases.

A laser's specific wavelength allows energy to be absorbed in selected tissues and not damage surrounding tissues. The laser beam is so precise it can cut notches in a strand of human hair without breaking it.

Thermal lasers convert light to heat. This type of laser seals blood vessels and destroys abnormal tissues. Photoablative lasers cut or sculpt tissue and are used to remove tissue, changing the shape and surface of the eye.

Lasers can preserve vision, sometimes for many years, for diabetics with diabetic retinopathy. In treating diabetic retinopathy, the laser light seals leaking blood vessels in the retina, the light-sensitive layer of cells lining the back of the eye. Lasers also treat more unusual retinal disorders, including blood vessel problems and tumors.

Also used to treat glaucoma, lasers can create a new passage through the iris to relieve eye pressure or open the eye's blocked drainage canals.

Although lasers do not remove cataracts, they may one day. Right now, they open the posterior capsule, which often becomes cloudy after cataract surgery, restoring vision in a matter of hours.

More recently, the excimer laser has received a great deal of attention as a tool for permanently correcting refractive errors such as nearsightedness, farsightedness and astigmatism. Refractive laser surgery can decrease or eliminate the need for glasses and contact lenses by reshaping the cornea.

Laser Skin Resurfacing
Laser skin resurfacing is a relatively new laser procedure to improve the appearance of the skin. The laser burns the superficial layers of the skin to treat wrinkles, scarring, or facial pigment abnormalities. When the skin heals, the new skin layers are tighter and the wrinkles are less apparent.

The laser can be used to treat the entire face, or can be limited to the fine wrinkles around the eyes and mouth. Aging, cigarette smoking and a lifetime of sun exposure are some of the factors associated with wrinkles. Laser skin resurfacing is not a substitute for a face lift procedure, which tightens and repositions loose skin on the face and neck, but can be combined with it to diminish some of the fine wrinkles. Younger patients who are not yet candidates for a face lift may be candidates for the laser procedure.

Laser resurfacing can be done as an outpatient procedure using local anesthesia. If the entire face is treated or if this procedure is combined with other cosmetic procedures, intravenous sedation or a general anesthetic may be used. The procedure can last from a few minutes to two hours depending on the treatment area.

After surgery, the treated skin must heal much like any wound that removes skin. There is significant swelling of the treated skin, especially around the eyes and lips. If treatment included upper eyelids, the eyes may be swollen shut. New skin layers take five to ten days to grow, depending on the depth of treatment with the laser.

Laser skin resurfacing has advantages over traditional resurfacing methods such as chemical peels and dermabrasion. Healing is generally quicker and there is less postoperative discomfort after a laser treatment. While there is similar redness and swelling after surgery, there is less chance of scarring or skin pigment changes.

A consultation with your physician is necessary to determine if you are a candidate for laser skin resurfacing in combination with other types of cosmetic surgery or as an alternative to other procedures. It is important to tell your physician if you have had previous cold sore infections, are using the drug Accutane, or have any other conditions that might interfere with normal healing.
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