Laser Therapy; Types, Uses, Procedures, Cancer, Skin care

Laser Therapy is a medical treatment that uses low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes to alter cellular function. Laser has primarily been shown useful in the short-term treatment of acute pain caused by rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, tendinopathy, strains and sprains and chronic joint disorders.The experienced physiotherapists at Focus Physiotherapy are skilled and available to perform laser therapy services to assist your recovery.

Types of Laser Therapy

Type of Laser What it Treats Side Effects Brands
Carbon Dioxide Laser (CO2)
  • Deep set wrinkles
  • Acne scars and other scarring
  • Warts
  • Birthmarks
  • Skin tags
  • Saggy skin (encourages collagen production for skin tightening)
  • Skin cancer
  • Corns on feet
  • Moles
  • Sun damage
  • Not good for stretch marks
Traditional CO2 lasers took months to heal with a high risk of scarring and red skin.

Fractional CO2 lasers are less invasive and generally require 2-3 weeks of recovery

If you are Asian, you have a higher risk of hyper-pigmentation or hypo-pigmentation. Do not get this treatment if you have active acne on your skin.

    • Sharplan (old technology)
    • Fraxel re:pair(fractional CO2 laser)
  • Harmony Pixel Perfect
Erbium Laser
  • Fine lines
  • Small to moderate wrinkles
  • Skin pigmentation problems
  • Acne scars
  • Sun damage
  • Moles
Erbium lasers have less downtime than CO2 lasers because they burn less of the surrounding skin tissue.

Swelling, bruising and redness will usually subside in 1-2 weeks. Darker skin tones can use this laser.

  • Harmony Pixel Laser (fractional erbi
lsed-Dye Laser (PDL)
  • Vascular lesions
  • Spider veins
  • Port wine stains (birthmarks)
  • Rosacea
  • Broken capillaries
  • Fine lines around eyes
  • Stretch marks
Post-operative bruising (purpura) and temporary pigmentation changes are commonly experienced.
  • VBeam
Nd:Yag Laser
  • Hair removal
  • Spider veins
  • Skin pigmentation issues
  • Tattoo removal
  • Skin rejuvenation
Low success rate for the treatment of skin issues.

There is a chance of recurrence when used for the treatment of vascular lesions.

    • CoolGlide
    • GentleYAG
    • Laser Genesis
  • CoolTouch
Alexandrite Laser
  • Hair removal
  • Tattoo removal
  • Leg veins
Alexandrite lasers tend to better at removing finer, thinner hairs.

They are also good at removing black, green, or yellow colored tattoos. Good for those with white/pale skin.

    • GentleLASE
  • EpiTouch Plus


Type What it Treats Side Effects Brands
Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
  • Rosacea and facial redness
  • Broken blood vessels
  • Pigmented lesions and skin discolorations
  • Skin tightening
  • Moderately good at removing hair
  • Some tattoo removal
Redness and swelling post-op, but tends to fade in a few days.

Can experience some bruising, scabbing, and changes in pigmentation.

Not good for those with darker skin tones.

    • Lumenis
    • EpiLight
    • Quantum
    • PhotoDerm
  • Aculight
  • Skin tightening
  • Facial contouring
  • Non-surgical face lift
  • Stimulating collagen
  • Saggy skin
Does not reach fat layer so no risk of fat loss.

Very minimal downtime.

  • Skin tightening
  • Facial rejuvenation
Contracts underlying fats, therefore some people experience permanent fat loss in their face. Can make face look more gaunt.
  • Thermage
Ultrasound Imaging
  • Skin tightening
  • Increase collagen production
  • Improve skin elasticity
  • Firming skin
Minimal downtime. No risk of fat loss.
  • Ulthera


Laser therapy may be used to 

Lasers can have a cauterizing, or sealing, effect and may be used to seal:

  • nerve endings to reduce pain after surgery
  • blood vessels to help prevent blood loss
  • lymph vessels to reduce swelling and limit the spread of tumor cells

Lasers may be useful in treating the very early stages of some cancers, including:

Laser therapy is also used cosmetically to

  • Gemove warts, moles, birthmarks, and sun spots
  • Remove hair
  • Lessen the appearance of wrinkles, blemishes, or scars
  • Remove tattoos
  • Tendinopathies
  • Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
  • Myofascial Trigger Points
  • Tennis Elbow
  • Ligament Sprains
  • Muscle Strains
  • Stress  Injuries
  • Chondromalacia Patellae
  • Plantar Fasciitis
  • Rheumatoid Arthritis
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Shoulder, back & Knee Pain
  • Herpes Zoster (Shingles)
  • Post-Traumatic Injury
  • Trigeminal Neuraglia
  • Fibromyalgia
  • Diabetic Neuropathy
  • Venous Ulcers
  • Burns
  • Deep Edema/Congestion
  • Sports Injuries

Laser therapy for cancer treatment

The term LASER stands for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Laser light is concentrated so that it makes a very powerful and precise tool. Laser therapy uses light to treat cancer cells. Consider the following additional information regarding laser therapy:

  • Lasers can cut a very tiny area, less than the width of the finest thread, to remove very small cancers without damaging surrounding tissue.

  • Lasers are used to apply heat to tumors to shrink them.

  • Lasers are sometimes used with drugs that are activated by laser light to kill cancer cells.

  • Laser beams can be bent by going through tubes to access hard-to-reach places.

  • Lasers can be used along with microscopes to let doctors view the site being treated.

Lasers used during cancer surgery

The following are some of the different types of lasers used for cancer treatment

  • Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers – Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers can remove a very thin layer of tissue from the surface of the skin without removing deeper layers. The CO2 laser may be used to remove skin cancers and some precancerous cells.

  • Neodymium:yttrium-aluminum-garnet (Nd:YAG) lasers – Nd YAG lasers can get deeper into tissue and can cause blood to clot quickly. The laser light can be carried through optical fibers to reach less accessible internal parts of the body. For example, the Nd:YAG laser can be used to treat throat cancer.

  • Laser-induced interstitial thermotherapy (LITT) – LITT uses lasers to heat certain areas of the body. The lasers are directed to areas within body tissues that are near a tumor. The heat from the laser increases the temperature of the tumor, thereby shrinking, damaging, or destroying the cancer cells.

  • Argon lasers – Argon lasers pass only through superficial layers of tissue such as skin. Argon lasers can be useful in treating skin problems or eye surgery. Photodynamic therapy (PDT) uses argon laser light to activate chemicals in the cancer cells.

Cosmetic Uses of 

  • Fine Lines and Wrinkles – For treating lines and wrinkles, a combination of skin resurfacing and skin-tightening procedures can be used or both can be accomplished with a more aggressive ablative laser, such as a CO2 (carbon dioxide) laser or Erbium YAG. The CO2 laser is also commonly used for the removal of warts and skin tags and for cutting skin in laser-assisted surgery.  Pulsed dye lasers have also shown some success, along with less aggressive nonlaser, light-based treatments, such as IPL and LED photofacials.
  • Skin Tightening – Most cosmetic laser procedures provide at least some level of superficial tightening because they produce a controlled injury of the skin, which encourages increased collagen production. For more significant tightening results, however, CO2 lasers are the laser of choice. In addition, there has been much success using nonlaser, light-based treatments, such as Titan infrared devices and Thermage radio-frequency based systems.
  • Pigmented Lesions – The most commonly used lasers for the treatment of pigmented lesions, such as sun spots, age spots, melasma and other forms of hyper pigmentation are the pulsed dye, Nd:YAG and fractional (Fraxel) lasers, along with nonlaser, light-based treatments, such as IPL.
  • Precancerous Lesions Almost all surgeons agree that cancerous lesions should be removed via scalpel (with a knife during surgery) to ensure clear borders and complete removal. In addition to making sure a skin cancer has “clear margins,” this assures that there is a sample for a pathologist to look at to determine exactly what the lesion was. By removing precancerous growths, such as actinic keratoses, before they have a chance to become malignant (squamous cell skin cancers), though, lasers are now routinely being used as a preventative measure. Ablative lasers, such as the CO2 and erbium:YAG, are generally chosen to remove these lesions.
  • Vascular Lesions – Vascular lesions include broken blood vessels on the face, unsightly spider veins on the legs, spider nevi, hemangiomas, and certain birthmarks such as port wine stains. For these types of skin irregularities, IPL is a common choice, as it is minimally invasive. Also popular for treating these lesions are the pulsed dye, Nd:YAG and diode lasers.
  • Tattoos – The CO2 laser and Nd:YAG remain popular for tattoo removal, although some success can also be had with the use of IPL.
  • Hair Removal The success and safety of laser hair removal is highly dependent on the pigment present in both the skin and the hair of the patient being treated. For darker-skinned patients, the Nd:YAG and diode lasers are often the lasers of choice, and for lighter-skinned patients, IPL has proved effective.
  • Acne and Acne Scars – For deeper acne scars, the CO2 laser remains the gold standard, although more recent developments such as the erbium YAG, fractional laser and certain nonablative lasers have shown considerable success with superficial acne scarring. For the treatment of active acne, LED technology has proven to be quite effective.


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