What to Look For When Buying a Therapeutic Laser
Although all lasers biologically stimulate cell metabolism via a similar mechanism, that is where the similarities end. The bottom line when it comes to laser therapy it’s all about physics. In order to get penetration you need power. Every doctor knows in order to get deeper penetration with x-rays you need to increase the power output and time of exposure. Laser energy is just another form of energy on the electromagnetic spectrum just like x-rays and the key to greater laser energy delivery and penetration is the same principle and is based on the wavelength and power output of the laser and the time of laser exposure. Without sufficient power you will not penetrate and deliver the necessary therapeutic dosage. In order to get outcomes you need the proper dosage and dosage is a function of power output. Once you are in the infrared spectrum, 800nm to 1064 nm the key is power output and dosage.
As the doctor who received FDA clearance for the first class iv laser in 2003, I have found over the years as we increased power output and energy delivery we saw better and faster outcomes. Energy delivery is a function of power output and it doesn’t matter the brand of the laser as much as the power output and whether or not the laser is operating on a continuous basis or if it is pulsing or operating under a 50% duty cycle, which means the laser is only firing 50% of the time. When you treat a patient you are dosing them with therapeutic energy and the dose is directly related to the power output of the laser and the frequency it is on. Another important factor to look at is whether the laser operates under a single or dual wavelength mode. Laser penetration is based on an absorption curve for each wavelength, and the ability of each wavelength to penetrate is not additive. Dual wavelength lasers such as K-Laser or Litecure can only penetrate as deep the individual wavelength that penetrates the most. So what this means is for a 15 or 25 watt dual wavelength laser you need to cut the penetration ability in half. If the laser has a 50% duty cycle then the penetration is only 25% off the average power output of the wavelength with most powerful diode output. We have long known this and also proved that our single wavelength laser cannot only accelerate wound healing superficially, it can also penetrate to accomplish healing in deeper-seated pathologies such as disc herniations. There is no magical wavelength. Once you are in the infrared spectrum they all work well. The key to better outcomes is power and energy dosage. That is why we operate under a single wavelength of which we have over 13 years of clinical experience in both human and veterinary medicine.
Ultimately the more powerful lasers not only dose patients faster they penetrate deeper and ultimately lead to better and faster outcomes.
In summary as you search for a class iv laser our recommendation is to seek out a single wavelength laser which puts out the most energy over a given time period as well as the laser that offers continuous output operation for the given price point you are willing to spend. Realize that any money saved on a laser which can dose the same amount of energy by treating twice as long, is more than offset by your increased labor costs. Remember first and foremost you are buying the ability of the laser to produce energy. Protocols and software do not deliver outcomes. That requires proper dosing!
Dr. Bruce R. Coren, DVM, MS | Cofounder, Chairman & CEO
Technological Medical Advancements, LLC
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