AN IMPORTANT ANNIVERSARY

This May was the 50th anniversary of the invention of the Laser. Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Basically, the laser is defined as, “any device that creates a narrow, intense beam of light and then magnifies that light”. The origins of the laser can be traced to physicist, Theodore Maiman who in 1960 used a ruby rod to make the first laser.

Lasers are in use all around us, from laser light shows to laser pointers. However, the invention and development of medical lasers was a major advancement and has revolutionized treatment of all sorts of medical and cosmetic conditions.

In 1960, the first rudimentary surgical laser was produced and in 1963, McGuff first used the ruby laser to rid arteries of atherosclerotic plaques. Following this experiment, over 20 years of development and testing took place, which led to the first clinical application of lasers in cardiovascular surgery in 1983. Other major advancements occurred in 1997 when ophthalmologist began to use lasers in surgeries of the eye.

The use of laser in dermatology has dramatically changed the treatment options available to treat all sorts of dermatological conditions. Since the invention of lasers, research has led to major advances in treatment of numerous skin conditions such as sun damaged skin, acne scars, and wrinkles and those that improve wound healing time. Other lasers have also proven effective in hair removal and hair growth and in removing tattoos from the skin. Lasers have also been used for skin resurfacing and the latest pulse dye lasers allow for effective treatment of facial redness, broken blood vessels and to effectively treat the skin condition of rosacea and skin staining.

Advances are being made every day laser applications and they will continue to revolutionize the treatment of a myriad of medical conditions. A key advancement in laser development was the introduction of portable laser devices for use at home. The first of the devices cleared for marketing by the FDA was the HairMax LaserComb which received clearance for regrowth of hair in 2007. This has been followed by other devices for use at home for hair removal, wrinkle effacement and acne treatment.

So, happy anniversary to the laser – the next 50 years should lead to further developments in devices that will make major contributions to the treatment of disease of all of the major systems in the body. This time period should also see the introduction of many other portable devices that people can use at home to treat so many other dermatological conditions.