Laser Scalpels


The laser scalpel has become a valuable tool in the surgeon’s kit for specialized surgeries in the recent decades, starting in the 1960’s [1]. This laser scalpel is a scalpel, usually used in surgery, that uses a finely tuned laser beam to create intricate incisions in tissue, allowing for varied cutting depths and strengths [1]. The benefits of laser scalpels include a greater precision, reduction of bleeding via instantaneous cauterization of wounds, and faster healing for the patient [1].
There are multiple types of laser scalpels, and common types include: gas lasers, excimer (or ultraviolet) laser, and free electron lasers. Gas lasers tend to have a powerful and continuous infared beam, and tend to be used in procedures such as dermabrasion and resurfacing, or the removal of tissue abnormalities [2]. The excimar laser, is generally used in optical procedures to correct vision by reshaping the cornea, like within Lasik procedures [2]. Finally, the free electron laser tends to be used for soft tissue surgeries involving brain tissues and skin [2].

The future for laser scalpels is bright and offers up many advantages to current systems. According to Changhui Yang, there is a possibility of “doing incision-less surgery” and with new technology, “we can potentially use that as a laser scalpel that leaves the skin unharmed” [3]

Aside from all these positives, there are drawbacks: Laser scalpels don't give a surgeon the same tactile feedback that a standard scalpel would. Additionally, they’re unsuitable for applications where collateral damage to surrounding tissue is a concern, as the heat from the laser can affect tissue around it.


Vocal cord surgery
Closing small blood vessels
Tumor removal
Eye Surgery

Web Resources

Lasers vs Scalpels

Related terms

Laparoscopic Surgery