Wart Laser Surgery
Laser Surgery for Treatment of Warts
Warts are benign growths that can occur anywhere on the body. Rough to the touch, they are extremely common and are caused by the human papillomavirus or HPV. Warts generally regress of their own accord, although they are not in a hurry to disappear and can hang around the skin for a couple of months or longer. And so there are a number of treatments available for those people who want to speed up the eradication process.
Zapping a wart with a laser beam is often considered by patients when all other treatments have failed, or if the warts are large and widespread. An intense beam of light is focused on the wart to burn and destroy it, and the procedure is usually carried out in a doctor’s office or clinic under a local anesthetic. Several types of lasers can be used, but two of the most common are pulsed dye lasers and carbon dioxide lasers.
Pulsed Dye Laser
Pulsed dye lasers target hemoglobin (the oxygen-carrying molecule in the blood) within the blood vessels of the wart. The heat spreads out to surrounding tissue which seals the blood vessels and so starves the wart of nutrients. The wart dries up, becomes necrotic, and eventually falls off. The effectiveness of pulsed dye laser treatment has been demonstrated by several research teams. In one study a removal success rate of just over 79% was achieved on patients with plantar warts (Borovoy MA, et al. Flashlamp pulsed dye laser (585 nm). Treatment of resistant verrucae. J AM Podiatr Med Assoc 1996; 86:547-50). And a success rate of 85.7 % was achieved with pulsed dye laser treatment of periungual warts (Robson KJ, et al. Pulsed-dye laser versus conventional therapy in the treatment of warts: a prospective randomized trial. J Am Acad Dermatol 2000; 43 (2 pt 1): 275-80).
Carbon Dioxide Laser
Carbon dioxide lasers work by sending out a highly concentrated beam to vaporize affected tissue, and has been shown to be effective on patients after just one procedure (Serour, F, Somekh, E. Successful treatment of recalcitrant warts in pediatric patients with carbon dioxide laser. European Journal of Pediatric Surgery. 2003; 13: 219-223). In this study, 40 patients with a total of 54 recalcitrant warts were treated with carbon dioxide lasers as previous treatments had proved ineffective. The laser was used as a scalpel to cut the skin in a circular fashion around the wart, and then the base of the wart was vaporized. All patients undertook just one session and healing time was on average 4-5 weeks. 12 months after the procedure wart recurrence was nil, and there wasn’t any significant scarring or infection, although one patient complained of postoperative pain.
What to Expect with Wart Laser Removal
Genital wart laser surgery and plantar wart laser surgery should not be considered lightly. The procedure is expensive and the wound can be painful for several days after treatment. People have been known to have a longer recovery time with wart laser surgery than with other methods of wart removal. There is also a slight risk of infection. On the plus side laser surgery of warts can be very effective and leave little or no scarring.
Other Wart Removal Options
Other wart removal options besides laser include such treatments as cantharidin, cryotherapy, and immunotherapy.