The authors investigated the surgical and collateral effects on soft tissue of a carbon dioxide laser emitting at 9.3 micrometers. Specifically, incision widths and depths as well as effectiveness were studied. Three different laser modes were investigated: gated continuous wave, or Cw, Superpulse and OptiPulse (Medical Optics). Incision depths correlated positively with average power; higher powers produced deeper incisions. The gated Cw mode quickly produced wide, deep incisions; Superpulse achieved narrower, deep incisions; OptiPulse caused very narrow, shallow incisions. Collateral damage to adjacent tissues was reduced by a factor of about 2 using Superpulse, and by a factor of 10 using OptiPulse. A wide range of effects is achieved in soft tissue, depending on the laser parameter combination used.
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