By Vet Charlotte Pennington
Laser therapy can be used for a variety of purposes in treating equine patients, one of which is treating various skin conditions.
By far the most common use of laser surgery in the horse is for the removal of skin tumours such as sarcoids and melanomas. Usually this is done under standing sedation with local anaesthetic but occasionally a general anaesthetic is needed.
Whilst the laser is being used the people using it, along with others in the room, must wear special protective goggles over their eyes.
There are many potential advantages of laser surgery as opposed to using a cold scalpel blade for skin surgeries. Specifically where skin tumours are being removed, the laser heats and vaporises the tissue which minimises the risk of spreading tumour cells during removal, so reducing the risk of seeding and regrowth.
The laser also seals blood vessels whilst cutting, reducing bleeding during the procedure, and also seals nerve endings. The combination of the above reduces pain and inflammation after the procedure.
Post surgery laser wounds are not stitched but left open to heal. They can look intimidating and weep in the first few days following surgery but healing is usually rapid and uncomplicated with low post procedure infection rates and generally good cosmetic results.
Any skin lesion is easier to treat when they are smaller and solitary, so if there is any concern it is always advisable to check any lesions or lumps by your vet sooner rather than later.
Depending on the specific problem there may be many other options to consider regarding treatment, other than the laser, specifically with sarcoids including individual cream protocols or intra-lesional injections.
Your vet can advise you on the most appropriate course of action.