Laser Therapy for Post-Surgical Healing
Laser therapy is often the first line of treatment for many conditions, such as overuse injuries and persistent pain, because laser therapy is a drug-free, safe, and an effective approach to treatment. Laser therapy is also popular for those who want to avoid surgery. Unfortunately, surgery is sometimes necessary when an overuse injury or other condition is addressed too late, when a complication develops, or when accidents just happen.
Fortunately, laser therapy can help heal surgical wounds, reduce the formation of scar tissue, and help fight pain and inflammation post-surgery naturally, thereby reducing the need for pain medications.
Laser Therapy Helps with Healing
Laser therapy is a type of regenerative medicine, which means the treatments focus on healing tissues and organs. Unlike many other forms of regenerative medicine that use drugs or invasive procedures, laser therapy harnesses the power of light energy to soothe pain and simulate the body’s own natural healing processes.
Also known as photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), laser therapy devices emit specific wavelengths of light that penetrate the skin safely. Once inside the body tissue, these wavelengths of light cause specific actions that can alleviate pain, reduce swelling, and speed healing.
Laser therapy kick-starts cellular activity, or metabolism, which means PBMT helps cells make repairs and perform faster or more frequently. Exposing cells to specific wavelengths of light triggers activity in their mitochondria, also known as the “powerhouse of cells” because of the way the mitochondria generates the energy cells need to function. Stimulating the mitochondria increases the production of energy inside the cell, which allows the cell to heal faster.
PBMT stimulates the flow of blood to the surgical area. Blood contains important nutrients, growth factors, and other repair cells and compounds that help cells heal and function. Blood also carries away excess fluid to reduce swelling, so stimulating blood flow can help decrease inflammation.
Laser therapy interferes with the processes associated with post-operative pain. Damaged cells and tissues can send a pain signal through the nerves to the brain. Specific chemicals, such as bradykinin, stimulate nerve activity during the pain response. Bradykinin can also trigger inflammation. PBMT decreases bradykinin levels to impart a pain-blocking effect on specific nerve fibers.
Laser therapy can promote the regeneration of healthy nerves. Damaged nerves can send pain signals to the brain, even in the absence of tissue damage. PBMT also decreases inflammation. While inflammation is a natural process, swelling can slow down the healing process by preventing repair cells from reaching the surgical area.
Many patients enjoy the effects and benefits of laser therapy immediately, but experience lasting effects after a few hours and over successive laser therapy sessions. Depending on the patient’s condition, surgical site, and level of pain or disability, sessions usually take place over the course of several weeks. These patients often experience improvements with each session.
Laser Therapy before OR after Surgery
Laser therapy is beneficial both before and after surgery. PBMT can reduce inflammation prior to the procedure, for example, prime the immune system, and help the body begin the healing process early by promoting metabolic activity within the affected cells. Research shows that laser therapy before surgery can help reduce pain after the procedure.
Recovering from surgery can be a slow process, as it takes time for incisions to close and tissues to heal. During the healing process, the body is vulnerable to infections and other complications. Slow healing can increase the risk of infections and complications, and can delay the patient’s return to a normal life. Improper healing of the skin can also lead to scars, which can be unsightly and can even impair function in some cases.
While surgeries are getting less invasive all the time, the incisions and tissue manipulation involved in surgical procedures can still cause pain. Post-operative pain can prevent the patient from getting up and moving; inactivity can slow the healing process. Opioids and other pain medications can reduce pain, but can cause unwanted effects, such as drowsiness and dependence on painkillers.
Laser therapy speeds post-surgical wound healing, decreases postoperative pain, and reduces swelling to help patients get back on their feet and return to their normal activities. PBMT can also reduce the formation of scar tissue that may cause cosmetic or functional problems later.
Post-surgical treatment with laser therapy helps patients recover. In a recent case report, researchers followed the progress of a woman with a complete rotator cuff tear, which is a tear in the tendon tissue that connects muscles to bone in the shoulder area. The patient underwent surgery to repair the tear, but continued to experience pain that prevented her from moving her arm freely or going to rehabilitation. After just six treatments with laser therapy, the woman was almost pain-free and her range of motion in the arm was completely restored.
Laser therapy can be added to other treatment plans, including physical therapy. Since it is a drug-free approach to healing, patients can safely take other postoperative medications without fear of a drug interaction with PBMT. This makes laser therapy the perfect adjunct therapy for post-operative recovery.
For more information about the benefits of laser therapy for post-surgical healing, click the link below. Learning more about laser therapy can help you improve post-operative healing and the overall outcome of surgery.