The key to the success of soft tissue lasers is their ability to cut and coagulate the soft tissue at the same time. Laser light’s wavelength determines how it is absorbed by objects. Lasers of different wavelengths produce different effects on tissue.
For practical surgical lasers on the market today (diode, erbium and CO2 lasers), the laser light energy is transformed, through absorption, into the heat inside the tissue leading to elevated tissue temperatures that, in turn, can result in tissue ablation and coagulation. Such laser-tissue interaction is referred to as photo-thermal.
Comparing laser wavelengths
As illustrated with the photographs on this page, not all lasers are efficient at both cutting and coagulating the soft tissues. Some laser wavelengths (such as erbium lasers) are great at cutting but are not efficient at coagulating. Other laser wavelengths (such as of diode lasers) are highly efficient coagulators but are poor scalpels. There are also lasers (such as a CO2 laser) that are efficient at both cutting and coagulating soft tissue.