How to apply the LightScalpel in your practice
One pediatric dental team highlights the benefits of this CO2 surgical laser system.
Dr. Martin Kaplan never thought he’d invest in another laser—until he used the LightScalpel CO2 surgical laser system. Dr. Kaplan, president of Kid Care Dental, already owned several diode and erbium lasers at the time and was about to start teaching a class on how to treat frenum attachment problems in infants at Tufts University. A colleague suggested he try LightScalpel, and once he did, he knew it was the perfect system for soft tissue procedures in his practice and for his class.
What Dr. Martin Kaplan says about the LightScalpel laser
I was in the process of developing a laser training class at Tufts when I first tried LightScalpel. There’s a big interest in treating infants with breastfeeding problems caused by oral restrictions. These children aren’t growing because of their inability to latch to the breast and they’re on unnecessary reflux medication because of being “gassy” (often because they’re swallowing air while breastfeeding). Many mothers have to give up breastfeeding because of severe nipple pain and damage. This is a subject I’m passionate about.
I’ve been successfully performing the procedure to treat this problem for years with a diode laser. Therefore, I was suspicious of trying LightScalpel at first, but when I did I got a phenomenal result. My treatment time went from 30 seconds to 3 or 4 seconds and the babies experienced less stress. When I tried another procedure that usually took a minute and a half, I was able to finish it in about 20 seconds. But it was not the speed of the procedure that impressed me; instead, it was the precision and control that I had, which were missing with the diode and erbium lasers.
After the first procedure and the repeatedly same great results, I immediately purchased a LightScalpel laser. This is now the only laser I use for soft tissue procedures. It’s economically efficient and has a small foot print, so it’s easy to move. Infection control is much easier than with my diodes, which have fibers that are difficult to maintain. The LightScalpel handpieces are easy to sterilize and maintain as well as to maneuver.
The company itself is easy to work with. If I have a problem (and I only had one with a foot pedal connection) or need advice because something isn’t working right, all I have to do is call and my questions are answered right away. By the way, the foot pedal replacement was overnighted to me and I had zero down time. The customer service is phenomenal.
The LightScalpel also gives me ideal control over the tissue type that I’m treating. I simply adjust the control panel at any time according to my needs during the procedure. You cannot do this with a diode as easily. My vision is not at all compromised with the LightScalpel. There is little to no bleeding. If I used a scalpel, the area becomes bloody, making it difficult to see. I also don’t have to worry about hot and cold spots as I do with a diode fiber tip.
For the patient, it’s a quicker procedure and there’s less post-op discomfort. The LightScalpel is kinder to tissue because of its minimal depth of tissue penetration, so patients heal quicker. My patients also like the fact that I’m using a laser; they consider it high-tech. I’ve used multiple lasers over the past 15 years, and many patients come to me because I offer this technology. The LightScalpel for soft tissue is light years ahead of any other laser I’ve used in terms of treatment quality.
It’s a safer procedure for all of my patients, especially the infants. They are very tiny, with some as small as 5 pounds. I want the best surgical tool for my procedures with the best efficiency and least amount of side effects. With a CO2 laser, you’re aiming the beam at tissue to remove it, not touching the tissue, but vaporizing it with the laser’s light. Diodes have a 500-degree to 1,200-degree Celsius hot quartz tip that runs the risk of collateral heat damage causing it to fracture and break off, especially in babies. Tip fracture is not a problem in the non-contact LightScalpel CO2 laser.
Some say CO2 lasers cut too fast, but LightScalpel is very efficient. CO2 lasers and the LightScalpel have been used in medicine, including facial surgery, for decades. If there was a problem with too much tissue interaction, no one would use the laser for cosmetic surgeries and scar removal in medicine.
I see about 600 infants a year with breastfeeding, swallowing and choking problems and this is the laser that works the best. I have three diode and two Erbium lasers I no longer use for soft tissue laser surgery. I think I would cry if my laser broke down. In fact, I know I would.
What dental assistant Michelle Mercier says about the LightScalpel laser
The LightScalpel has more speed than any lasers we’ve used before and it seems to be a lot gentler on tissue than a diode. It’s also very easy to set up because you don’t have to worry about cords or tips. Taking care of the laser is also pretty easy. You just sterilize the handpiece and the mirror between uses.
The procedures seem to go a little faster as well, especially when we’re working with infants. It’s a thousand times easier than using a diode. Infants all have different mouth sizes and some aren’t able to open wide. That’s tricky with a diode because you have that glass tip. If a crying baby wiggles or moves too much, the glass tip can hit the lip or tongue and snap off, then you have to worry about finding the sharp tip in the baby’s mouth. With the LightScalpel, you aim the laser where you want it to go, so it’s a lot easier.
One of the benefits for patients is healing time. The tissue is managed in a whole different way, and the procedure itself is also a lot more comfortable. We’re even able to see younger patients. Before we were treating babies closer to 12 month old, and now we can treat patients as young as 2-3 days of age.
I really love this laser and can’t imagine my life without it. It’s a fascinating, unbelievably great machine.