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Laser Therapy FAQ's

Is laser therapy scientifically well documented?

There are more than 100 double blind positive studies confirming the clinical effect of LLLT. More than 3000 research reports are published. Looking at the limited LLLT dental literature alone (325 studies), more than 90% of these studies do verify the clinical value of laser therapy.


But I have heard that there are dozens of studies failing to find any effect of laser therapy.

This is true, however you cannot just take any laser and irradiate for any length of time and using any technique. A closer look at the majority of the negative studies will reveal serious flaws.  It is also true that competent research certainly has failed to demonstrate effect in several indications. However, as with any treatment, it is a matter of dosage, diagnosis, treatment technique and individual reaction.

Which type of laser is best suited to which job?

The GaAs laser is excellent for the treatment of inflammation (even deep-lying) of muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints.

The GaAlAs laser is very effective in reducing pain due to inflammation or degeneration. Typically Dr. Brereton uses both types of lasers on most people.


How deep into the tissue can a laser penetrate?

The depth of penetration of laser light depends on the light's wavelength, on whether the laser is super-pulsed, and on the power output, but also on the technical design of the apparatus and the treatment technique used. 

A factor of importance here is the compressive removal of blood in the target tissue. When you press lightly with a laser probe against skin, the blood flows to the sides, so that the tissue right in front of the probe (and some distance into the tissue) is fairly empty of blood. As the haemoglobin in the blood is responsible for most of the light absorption, this mechanical removal of blood greatly increases the depth of penetration of the laser light.

There is no exact limit with respect to the penetration of the light. The light gets weaker and weaker the further from the surface it penetrates. There is, however, a limit at which the light intensity is so low that no biological effect of the light can be registered. This limit, where the effect ceases, is called the greatest active depth. In addition to the factors mentioned above, this depth is also contingent on tissue type, pigmentation, and dirt on the skin. It is worth noting that laser light can even penetrate bone (as well as it can penetrate muscle tissue). Fat tissue is more transparent than muscle tissue.


Can laser therapy cause cancer?

The answer is no. No mutational effects have been observed resulting from light with wavelengths in the red or infra-red range and of doses used within laser therapy.


Are there any contra-indications?

People with cancer, pregnant women, those with pace makers and people with epilepsy should be treated with caution.

How long does a laser treatment take?

A typical treatment will last between 5 and 25 minutes, depending on the size of the area being treated, how well the patient tolerates treatment, depth of the affected tissue and skin colour (darker skinned people require longer treatment times due to the increased absorption of light).  

How soon will I notice a change? 

Some people feel better when they get up off the table while others notice a change within minutes to  hours.  Still other notice no change until after a few treatments and a small minority do not get any benefit from laser therapy.

How many treatments will I need?

If your injury is acute you could get up to two treatments daily.  In chronic disease like arthritis or long-standing conditions treatment is usually given 2 to 3 times a week for a few weeks then gradually reduces to one treatment a week or month. 

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