- Information for Patients and Professionals
- Laws, Regulations & Performance Standards
- Industry Guidance
- Other Resources
Medical lasers are medical devices that use precisely focused light sources to treat or remove tissues.
The term “laser” stands for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. Ordinary light, such as that from a light bulb, has many wavelengths and spreads in all directions. Laser light, on the other hand, has a specific wavelength. It is focused in a narrow beam and creates a very high-intensity light. Because lasers can focus very accurately on tiny areas, they can be used for very precise surgical work or for cutting through tissue (in place of a scalpel).
Lasers are used in many types of surgical procedures. Some examples include
- Cosmetic surgery (to remove tattoos, scars, stretch marks, sunspots, wrinkles, birthmarks, spider veins or hair)
- Refractive eye surgery (to reshape the cornea in order to correct or improve vision as in LASIK or PRK)
- Dental procedures (such as endodontic/periodontic procedures, tooth whitening, and oral surgery)
- General surgery (such as tumor removal, cataract removal, breast surgery, plastic surgery and most other surgical procedures)
With proper use, lasers allow the surgeon to accomplish more complex tasks, reduce blood loss, decrease postoperative discomfort, reduce the chance of wound infection, and achieve better wound healing.
As with any type of surgery, laser surgery has potential risks. Risks of laser surgery include incomplete treatment of the problem, pain, infection, bleeding, scarring, and skin color changes.
Laser surgery uses non-ionizing radiation, so it does not have the same long-term risks as x-rays or other types of ionizing radiation.
- Frequently Asked Questions about Lasers (January 26, 2006)
- CDRH Consumer Information: Laser Facts (May 17, 2002)
- LASIK Eye Surgery
- Phakic Intraocular Lenses
Manufacturers of electronic radiation emitting products sold in the United States are responsible for compliance with the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), Chapter V, Subchapter C - Electronic Product Radiation Control.
Manufacturers of surgical laser products are responsible for compliance with all applicable requirements of Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (Subchapter J, Radiological Health) Parts 1000 through 1005:
In addition, surgical lasers must comply with radiation safety performance standards in Title 21 Code of Federal Regulations (Subchapter J, Radiological Health) Parts 1010, 1040.10, and 104.11:
Because they are medical devices, surgical laser products must also comply with the medical device regulations. For more information, see Getting to Market with a Medical Device.
Required Reports for the Medical Laser Manufacturers or Industry
Industry Guidance - Documents of Interest
- Federal Register - Laser Products; Proposed Amendment to Performance Standard
Compliance Guide for Laser Products (FDA 86-8260) (PDF Only)(PDF - 105KB) Frequently Asked Questions Regarding the Laser Notice 53 - Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff - Approval of Alternate Means of Labeling for Laser Products (issued March 23, 2007) Tabulated Values of Accessible Emission Limits for Laser Products(PDF - 1.7MB) Notices to the Laser Industry Quality Control Practices for Compliance with the Federal Laser Product Performance Standard(PDF - 1.1MB) Date of Manufacture Label on Radiation-Emitting Consumer Electronics Tabulated Values of Accessible Emission Limits for Laser Products(PDF - 1.7MB) Guidance for Industry and FDA Staff - Addition of URLs to Electronic Product Labeling