Laser surgery for pets safe, efficient

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The use of lasers during surgical procedures has been a part of the medical community for years. Now, pets and their owners can enjoy the same benefits offered by this technological alternative to conventional surgery.

Dr. Alethea Gammage, owner of Crenshaw Animal Clinic, purchased an Accuvet Laser on July 1. Where she once used a scalpel, Gammage can now use the laser to make pin-point and precise incisions for many numerous surgeries and procedures on animals.

"Lasers have been successfully used on humans for over 30 years," she said. "This human experience is proving to be beneficial for pets and their owners. We are pleased to be among the first veterinary practices to offer laser surgery specifically for pets."

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What's replaced her scalpel is a pen-like device attached to a thin stretch of tubing that runs to a machine. Gammage demonstrated the efficiency of the laser during a neutering surgery. Lasers generate an intense invisible beam of light along a certain wavelength, which vaporizes the water found in soft skin and tissue. The resulting incision seals small blood vessels during surgery, allowing Gammage to perform a quick and efficient operation. The increased speed on some procedures also reduces the need for anesthesia.

Gammage originally wanted the laser for de-clawing cats, a traditionally painful procedure for felines. But using the laser shortens post-operative recovery and allows for a quick return to normal activity. There's less pain because the laser seals nerve endings while moving through the tissue and swelling is minimal as lasers do not tear or bruise the surrounding areas. Risk of infection is also reduced because the intense beam kills any bacteria.

"Neutering, spaying, tumor removal, skin tags - lasers can be used in just about all procedures," said Gammage.

To see if laser surgery is right for your pet, visit