Hello,

We noticed you're browsing in private or incognito mode.

To continue reading this article, please exit incognito mode or log in.

Not an Insider? Subscribe now for unlimited access to online articles.

Rewriting Life

How Lasers Can Heal Surgeons' Incisions

Lasers and a century-old dye could supplant needles and thread.

  • by Lauren Gravitz
  • February 11, 2009
  • Irene Kochevar codirects research into healing surgical incisions with laser light at Massachusetts General Hospital.
After removing a small ellipse of tissue from an anesthetized rabbit, surgeon Ying Wang sews the deeper layers of the wound shut with traditional sutures; the laser that the team uses does not penetrate this deep tissue and so cannot bind it together.
Wang has closed the right half of the epidermal wound with cosmetic stitches. She then drips Rose Bengal dye onto the left half.
Wang and surgeon Min Yao position a metal frame that directs a green surgical laser over the incision. The frame keeps the instrument steady and at a measured distance from the skin. They shine the light onto the cut to activate the dye, leaving it on for three minutes.
This story is part of our March/April 2009 Issue
See the rest of the issue
Subscribe
A lens in the metal stand modifies the shape of the laser’s focal point so that it’s ideal for healing a long, thin surgical incision. Activated by the light, the Rose Bengal stain causes collagen fibers in the skin to link, sealing the wound.
Once the laser is removed, the left half of the incision remains closed without sutures; it requires no further care and will leave behind almost no scar. The stitches on the right half, however, must remain in place for up to two weeks and will result in small but visible cross-hatch scars.

AI is here.
Own what happens next at EmTech Digital 2019.

Register now
More from Rewriting Life

Reprogramming our bodies to make us healthier.

Want more award-winning journalism? Subscribe to Insider Basic.
  • Insider Basic {! insider.prices.basic !}*

    {! insider.display.menuOptionsLabel !}

    Six issues of our award winning print magazine, unlimited online access plus The Download with the top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox.

    See details+

    Print Magazine (6 bi-monthly issues)

    Unlimited online access including all articles, multimedia, and more

    The Download newsletter with top tech stories delivered daily to your inbox

/3
You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for unlimited online access. This is your last free article this month. for unlimited online access. You've read all your free articles this month. for unlimited online access. You've read of three free articles this month. for more, or for unlimited online access. for two more free articles, or for unlimited online access.