Laser stands for light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Because they work by converting electrical energy into a parallel beam of intense bright light, lasers can cut, seal or vaporize tissue and blood vessels. The laser’s advantages come from its ability to produce a specific and powerful wavelength of light with a wide variety of intensities. This pure beam of light is utilized by directing it at a tissue, which absorbs the light. For light energy to be absorbed, it is necessary to have some absorbing molecule in the tissue. In the field of skin surgery, there are several types of laser systems currently available for important clinical applications. However, no single laser is capable of treating all skin conditions. Rather, the type of laser used determines the kind of light emitted from it, and the kind of light, in turn, determines what skin problems can be treated. Following is an overview of lasers most commonly used and their applications.
What are the Benefits of Laser Technology?
The use of laser can offer the following general benefits:
- Reduces the risk of infection.
- Makes surgery virtually “bloodless”
- Enables precision therapy – fine, clean and delicate cuts.
- Replaces surgery in many cases.
- Minimizes scarring by not damaging surrounding tissue.
- Permits outpatient, same day surgery for many procedures.
What is Skin/Laser Surgery?
Skin/Laser Surgery refers to the treatment of certain skin disorders by surgical means.
It also includes the surgical treatment of certain conditions of the scalp and nails.
What are the methods used in Skin / Laser Surgery?
There are various methods employed in Skin/Laser Surgery. Besides removing skin lesions by cutting with a surgical knife, other methods used include: cryosurgery,electrosurgery and laser surgery. In cryosurgery, a cold substance (usually liquid nitrogen) is used to destroy the skin growth by a freezing process.
In electrosurgery, various forms of controlled electric currents are employed to destroy tissue.
In laser surgery, a precise and intense light beam is used to burn and destroy tissue. All of the above methods are usually performed under local anaesthesia, in some cases, no anaesthesia is required at all. Usually such surgical procedure will take less than 30 minutes to perform. The patient will usually be able to return home immediately after surgery and often, be able to resume work in a day or two.
What skin disorders can be treated by Skin / Laser Surgery?
Certain lesions on the skin or just beneath it can be treated by Skin/Laser Surgery. These include:
- Growths of infectious origin, eg Viral Warts and molluscum contagiosum.
- Birthmarks, eg: port-wine stains.
- Growths associated with ageing, eg: seborrhoeic keratoses and skin tags. Seborrhoeic keratoses are rough spots, usually brownish, that look as if they are ‘stuck’ on the skin. They commonly occur on the face of people over 40 years of age. Skin tags are soft, fleshy growths most commonly seen around the neck and in the armpits.
- Skin cancers which present itself either as sores (ulcers),growths (tumours) or pigmented patches.
- Tattoos for removal.
- Other benign growths on the skin. Some of the above-mentioned lesions can be treated by one or a combination of the skin/laser surgery methods. Your doctor will select the treatment method most appropriate for the specific lesion that you have. Besides the removal of skin growths, skin/ laser surgery is used to treat other conditions of the skin and some problems of the nails and hair. Please consult your dermatologist if you have concern in these areas.
How are patients referred for skin surgery
Patients for skin / laser surgery should be referred to the NSC general clinics (private and subsidised) in the usual way. After review in our general clinic, patients suitable for surgery will be referred to our skin / laser service for surgery.
The Day Surgery Procedure
You can have certain minor skin surgeries e.g. removal of skin growths, treatment of birthmarks, etc done and then recover, and go home all on the same day. This Day Skin & Laser Surgery service is provided at the National Skin Centre, at a reasonable cost.
Instructions before your surgery
- No need to fast
- As only local anaesthesia is used, you do not have to fast before the surgery
- When to come: You should arrive 15 minutes before surgery
- Where to go: Go to the Operating Theatre on the ground floor. Except for those who would normally require assistance by their family members, patients can come for the procedure by themselves and can return home by themselves as only local anaesthesia is used. Girls less then 21 years old and men under 18 years old must be accompanied by one of their parents/guardians to provide consent for surgery. Most day surgery patients are able to go home right after the surgery. But your doctor may decide to keep you longer, depending on his satisfaction with your recovery.
After your skin surgery your nurse will give you instructions on your medications and any activity restrictions to follow at home, as specified by your doctor. It is very important that you follow these instructions closely. For your protection, don’t take alcoholic drinks within 24 hours after surgery and for as long as you are taking medications. Here are some of the procedures that can be performed on a day surgery basis:
- Laser treatment of certain skin tumours and warts and birthmarks
- Surgery to remove skin, scalp and nail lesions and tumours
- Electrosurgical treatment of skin lesions and tumours
DEDICATED TO EXCELLENCE IN DERMATOLOGY
By National Skin Centre (Singapore)
Copyright (C) 1995 - National Skin Centre (Singapore)