A Brief History on How Laser Treatment Changed the World

A Brief History on How Laser Treatment Changed the World

There is now a steady influx of laser treatment centres in Toronto and the rest of Canada due to the growing demand for medical and cosmetic procedures through laser technology. Laser technology has become one of the most successful breakthroughs to date because of the impact it has brought to the medical field, especially in providing treatments to several health conditions.

The word laser stands for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation,” and laser treatments use focused light tuned to specific wavelengths. This creates the necessary intensity it needs to cut into anything with precision — may it be diamond, steel, hair, or damaged human tissue.

Although relatively more expensive than traditional surgeries or treatments, more patients prefer laser treatment because of its main advantages:

  • the precision it offers damages less surrounding issues, which makes for faster healing time
  • it is a very fast method of treatment; patients experience less pain, swelling, and scarring

Early Beginnings of Laser Technology

A Brief History on How Laser Treatment Changed the World

It was Albert Einstein who explored and first established the theoretical foundations for laser technology in his paper, “On the Quantum Theory of Radiation.” In his theory, which was published in 1916, he described laser as “stimulated emission” in his concept. It was not until decades later that the healing effects of laser were discovered.

In 1954, scientists J.P. Gordon and C.H. Townes at Bell Laboratories started generating the first “stimulated emissions” of microwave radiation (then called MASER). The first laser was built in 1960 by Dr. Theodore Maiman at the Hughes Aircraft Company by using a ruby crystal.

Laser for Medical and Cosmetic Treatments

A Brief History on How Laser Treatment Changed the World

Following Maiman’s successful discovery of the laser, many scientists from the medical field started experimenting on its other possible uses. But it was dermatologist Leon Goldman who made the first breakthrough in 1962, when used laser technology in removing unwanted tattoos. Bell Laboratories developed the first carbon dioxide laser in 1964, which was eventually used for gynaecologic surgery. Then, in 1967, grandfather of laser therapy Endre Mester discovered that lasers can also heal wounds.

This was followed by other discoveries in the 1980s by doctors John Parrish and Rox Anderson. Through their research, they first discovered that laser technology can target specific areas of the skin for treatment, which then would minimize the risk of scarring and damage of surrounding normal tissues. This concept gave birth to the following discoveries:

  • tunable dye laser to remove skin markings
  • Argon laser for ophthalmic use
  • YAG laser for the removal of wrinkles, skin pigmentation, and mild acne scarring
  • MicroLight laser for treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome

Laser treatment boom

A Brief History on How Laser Treatment Changed the World

It wasn’t until the early 2000s that laser therapy became widely recognized and accessible to more patients. This started when the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) started approving cold lasers for therapeutic use. Through cold lasers, surgeons can now treat conditions located in parts below the skin such as ligaments, tendons, and muscles.

In 2006, the FDA cleared the use of high power lasers, which can penetrate much deeper than cold lasers and deliver faster results. Because of this, high power lasers have become the immediate treatment for many musculoskeletal injuries.

In 2011, Canada approved the use of the most powerful lasers at that time, opening a myriad of opportunities for laser treatment centres in Toronto and other parts of Canada. Patients from Canada’s urban hubs were among the first who benefited from laser technology in administering treatments for a number of conditions from shallow cuts and burns to arthritic changes within a joint.

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