Your warts won’t leave you alone. Sometimes you can get rid of one or two, but they always return to plague you. Not only are your warts ugly, sometimes they get irritated and bleed. Not good. You’re ready to try laser wart removal, but you’re unsure of what all is involved. Does it hurt a lot? Does it really get rid of warts? Can you do it at home? Some of your warts are in private places. Will a laser work there also? Keep reading and you’ll find answers to your questions and more in this article.
Table of Contents
- What Is Important to Know About Laser Surgery?
- Is There More Than One Kind of Laser?
- When Should Laser Wart Removal Be Used?
- What Does Laser Surgery Feel Like?
What Is Important to Know About Laser Surgery?
A laser is an exceptionally strong beam of light. Because the beam is very narrow, it can be aimed at very small areas. The heat from the light beam kills the cells with which it comes into contact. The laser light can be made from different materials to accomplish different purposes. Depending on how it’s generated, the light beam is attracted to certain colors more than others.
When used to kill warts, physicians use a laser in which the light targets red hemoglobin, a component of blood. Warts are nourished by an extensive network of blood vessels. When the laser beam is aimed into the wart, it destroys the blood vessels and the wart dies.
The benefits of having the blood vessels sealed include reduced:
Recovery time can be faster than other types of wart removal surgery. There’s more information here about your surgical options.
How Is It Done?
Some technicians use a laser to surgically cut a circle around the wart. Then the light beam is directed to the skin under your wart and the blood vessels that feed it. Others aim the beam to the center of the wart from the top. Both methods are effective.
Laser wart removal can also kill some of the wart tissue, although the main objective is to seal off the blood vessels. The laser beam is in contact with your skin for a very brief period. To minimize discomfort, your doctor may use a local anesthetic. If you have very large warts or many warts to be removed, you may receive a general anesthetic. An ice pack or cooling gel may be placed on your skin after treatment.
Is There More Than One Kind of Laser?
More than one kind of laser can be used for removing warts. Carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers have been in use the longest. Most procedures with CO2 lasers are regarded as more painful than with other lasers. Although the CO2 laser seals off blood vessels, it also kills the wart tissue. Nearby healthy tissue can be destroyed in the process. The wound usually takes a longer time to heal and can leave a scar.
Many specialists have started using a pulsed dye laser, or PDL. PDL more efficiently seals off the small blood vessels feeding the wart. It doesn’t damage as much of the healthy tissue as the CO2 laser does. Additionally, PDL wart removal treatment has been approved by the FDA for use on children. It is the only type of laser with that approval.
If your wart is especially large or has pushed its way deep into healthy tissue, your doctor may choose treatment with a neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd:YAG) laser.
All laser surgeries require the expertise of a specialist. It’s important to consult with a wart removal doctor, preferably a board-certified dermatologist, about your options before making a final decision.
What Are the Advantages and Disadvantages?
Laser wart removal surgery has many pros and cons. These can include:
- Minimal bleeding.
- Small size wound.
- Minor scarring, if any.
- Fast procedure.
- Quicker recovery.
- Can require anesthesia.
- Recovery can be painful.
- Requires special equipment and training.
- Can require more than one treatment.
Each person has different opinions about the importance of the pros and cons. You will need to discuss your personal circumstances and preferences with your skin specialist. You’ll find more information in this article about whether an electronic wart remover or another process will better meet your needs.
For years, physicists investigated various theories about the ways in which light could be put to use for people. In 1960, Theodore H. Maiman built the first laser, based on the research of his predecessors. A property known as “spatial coherence” means that laser light can be focused in a very narrow range. Another property known as “temporal coherence” allows a light beam of only one color that can be pulsed in incredibly short bursts.
These special aspects of a laser light beam have enabled the use of light to accomplish many tasks that couldn’t be otherwise done. The use of lasers in surgery has made many delicate procedures possible and saved lives. One of the ways lasers have improved the lives of many is with laser wart removal, killing warts that otherwise would continue to grow and spread.
When Should Laser Wart Removal Be Used?
If you have genital warts, laser removal can be more effective than other methods. The skin in your genitals is filled with blood vessels and nerves that make it very sensitive. Laser surgery usually makes a very small wound. That minimizes pain and bleeding. It can also be safer than other treatments, most of which are not recommended for genital or anal warts.
Some warts, regardless of where they are located, are very stubborn. You may have tried all the home remedies with no success. Over the counter medications haven’t helped. Even prescription medications haven’t killed your warts. Your skin specialist might have tried freezing or burning off your warts. Either the procedures weren’t effective or the side effects made them impractical. Laser surgery may be your last option.
When Is Treatment Recommended?
Laser removal of warts is generally recommended for warts that:
- Are very large,
- Are numerous,
- Have resisted other treatments.
Traditionally, laser treatments have not been the first choice of treatment. That is changing, as more specialists are turning to lasers as the initial treatment rather than trying other remedies first. Laser surgery may be the best option for pregnant women with genital warts, as it doesn’t contain any toxic substances.
Laser surgery can’t be used if you have certain medical conditions. It’s important to fully discuss your health and any medications you take with your doctor prior to starting the treatment.
Sometimes it will take only one laser treatment to eliminate your warts. More often, you will need up to four treatments, spaced one month apart.
What Happens Afterward?
You will receive aftercare instructions after each treatment.
The instructions can include:
- How to keep the wound clean.
- How to change dressings.
- How to apply antibiotics if needed.
- What to do for pain.
- When to resume normal activity.
It is important that the wound receives proper care to avoid infection and speed healing.
Although recovery from laser wart removal can be painful, the biggest potential problem is the risk of infection.
Symptoms of infection include:
- Excessive pain,
- Pus or other discharge,
- Red streaks radiating from the wound,
You should call your doctor if you notice these symptoms or others about which he or she may have warned you.
How Much Does It Cost?
There isn’t a typical cost of wart removal surgery. Some doctors charge a fee for each wart removed. Others charge per treatment regardless of how many warts are removed each treatment.
Other variables include:
- The type of laser used,
- Your geographical area,
- How much your doctor is in demand,
- How many warts you have,
- Where your warts are located.
In general, you can expect fees to start at about $100.00 to $250.00.
Will Lasers Remove Plantar Warts?
Painful plantar warts are often a good candidate for laser surgery. Because of their location on your feet, they seldom respond to most treatments. Most of them have a callus or other tough skin covering them due to the friction from shoes or walking. In addition, plantar warts tend to become large and widespread.
Laser wart removal is the most efficient treatment for large or deep warts. It can cut through the tough skin and get to the underneath of the most ingrown plantar wart. You may need to stay off your feet for longer than you’d like for the wound to heal, but otherwise, laser removal is the fastest way to get rid of plantar warts.
What Does Laser Surgery Feel Like?
Most individuals report that the actual laser beam feels like a mild sting. However, most doctors numb the wart first with a local anesthesia. It is the reaction of your skin after the laser does its job that can be painful. Usually an over the counter pain killer is all that is necessary, however, your doctor can prescribe something stronger if needed.
Talk to your doctor before the treatment so you will know what to expect. Even a mild pain can feel worse if you’re not expecting it.
What Are the Side Effects of Laser Wart Removal?
Laser wart removal surgery doesn’t have significant side effects for most individuals. Sometimes a blister will form. If so, your doctor will tell you how to treat it in the aftercare instructions. The area may be red or tender for a couple of days, and you may experience itching as the wound heals. You can expect pain during recovery.
An undesirable side effect may include either hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation. Hyperpigmentation means that individuals with light skin may end up with dark patches of skin replacing the wart. Hypopigmentation means that darker-skinned individuals may end up with light patches of skin rather than warts. You need to discuss this with your doctor before the surgery.
How Long Does It Take to Recover?
Most individuals recover from laser wart removal surgery within a week to ten days. Depending on the number and location of your warts, you may be able to return to work or normal activities the day after the surgery.
Having your warts removed by laser surgery is generally safe. However, it can have the same risks as any other invasive procedure so it’s important to discuss all aspects of it with your doctor. If you decide laser wart removal is for you, it can eliminate your warts faster and more efficiently than other remedies.