Laser spine surgery is a kind of MISS, well known as minimally invasive spine surgery, that involves a laser that cuts through tissues and structures in your spine to relieve pain by reducing nerve compression. Although minimally invasive methods often lead to reduced pain and damage of tissues with a quick recovery period when compared to more extensive procedures, laser spine surgeries are restricted in their usefulness in the treatment of spinal cord disorders and are associated with risks.

If you are experiencing pain or disorders that have been caused by a strain or an injury to your spinal cord, you can contact Dr. Rappard's clinic. Dr. Rappard's facility offers a wide range of treatment options to manage both severe and chronic spine problems. We'll help you figure out the best action plan for your specific situation and provide you with the best possible treatment for a quick recovery.

Understanding What Laser Spinal Surgery Means

Laser spine surgery is described as a type of MISS that involves making small cuts less than one inch long to access parts of the spine's column. In comparison to back surgeries, which involve making big incisions along the back area to reach the structures in the spinal column, minimally invasive methods lead to fewer scars and injury to adjacent structures, as well as a faster recovery period and less pain. 

This kind of surgery differs from all types of minimally invasive treatments in that it uses laser beams to make an incision through structures in the spinal column rather than conventional surgical equipment. However, a typical surgical scalpel can still be used to make the initial cut into the skin.

The acronym 'Laser' stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. This surgical equipment involves concentrated beams of light that generate intense heat that can be used to make incisions through soft tissue structures, particularly those with high water contents, like the spine’s column discs. When lasers come into contact with bones, they produce instant sparks that could harm surrounding tissues and structures and can't be utilized to make incisions through the bone, which is essential for several spine operations.

Laser spine surgeries are most commonly used to do discectomy, which is a surgical procedure that involves removing a part of a herniated or bulging disc that's pressing against the adjacent nerve roots, which results in sciatica pain and compression of the nerve’s root.

Potential Risks For a Laser Spine Surgery

Although laser spine surgery could help to treat the root cause of compression to the nerve’s root, it carries a higher risk of harming surrounding tissues. Some of the risks related to laser spine surgery are:

  • Blood clots and bleeding
  • Possibility of infection
  • Damage to the nerves
  • Additional surgery is required.
  • Damage or harm to the membranes surrounding the spinal column
  • Symptoms that persist or recur

Laser beams are intense concentrated beams of heat that are less accurate compared to other surgical instruments and require a high level of control and mastery to avoid lasting damage to both the nerve roots and spinal cord. Always get in touch with your spine surgeon about the potential dangers of laser spine surgery to evaluate if it's a good alternative for you based on your current health state, medical history, and age.

How a Spine Surgery Specialist Can Help

Laser spine surgery is used to eliminate structures in the spinal column that causes compression to the nerve root. Conditions that are linked to compression of the nerve root include:

  • Spinal stenosis
  • Disc herniation or bulging
  • Sciatica
  • Tumors in the spine

To diagnose any of these disorders, your spine surgery specialist will perform imaging testing of your spinal cord to gain a clear view of what the underlying reason is as well as where the compression of the nerve root is occurring from, like CT scans, X-rays, or MRIs. A spine surgery specialist would also apply laser spine surgery for nerve ablation, which involves the laser burning and destroying nerve fibers that transmit chronic pain impulses to the brain.

How to Prepare For Laser Spine Surgery

The laser spine surgery Los Angeles doctor would give you more extensive guidelines on what you should do in the hours and days before surgery. To encourage optimal healing and seamless recovery, it's advised that you continue to be active, have a balanced diet, and cease smoking before any operation. Certain medications would need to be discontinued to prevent excessive bleeding or anesthetic interaction during the procedure. For your safety, always speak with your medical professional about any prescriptions, supplements, or over-the-counter drugs that you're using.

Laser spine surgery is often carried out as an outpatient operation at either an outpatient surgical facility or a hospital, similar to other minimally invasive treatments. Most likely, you won't need to spend the night in a hospital after your procedure since you can return home the same day. However, you wouldn't be permitted to drive a car to or from the hospital either after or before your operation. So, make arrangements with a family member or friend to provide a means of transport on your behalf. Stress reduction and prioritization of healthy emotional and mental well-being are also helpful in lowering inflammation levels in your body to assist in recovery. The more healthy you are before the operation, the easier it will be during the rehabilitation and recovery process.

What You Can Expect

This kind of surgery would be settled upon by both you and your spine surgeon, and it would be planned at an outpatient surgical facility or hospital. Ensure that you arrive at least one hour before your planned surgery starts to allow yourself enough time to complete all the required papers.

Before Surgery

You'll be escorted to a chamber where you would be instructed to change your garments into an operation gown. The surgeon would inquire about your past medical records during a quick physical examination that you will also have to undertake. After that, you will lie on a bed, where a health professional would insert an IV into your hand or arm to give you medications and fluid. The surgical team would transfer you in and out of the surgery room using the hospital bed.

The surgeon would help you onto the operation table and administer anesthetic medicine. You could be given a general anesthetic, which would make you fall asleep during the operation, or a regional anesthetic, which would be administered into the spinal column to numb the area, allowing you to feel nothing during the operation. The team of surgeons would sanitize the skin surrounding the part of your spinal column where a cut would be made. Antibacterial solutions would be applied to eliminate bacteria and reduce the risks of infection. After being sterilized, your body would be covered with disinfected sheets to ensure the surgical area stays clean.

During Surgery

To access the troublesome nerve roots, a surgeon would create a small cut less than an inch long down your spine using a scalpel. An endoscope, which is a surgical device having a camera, would be placed into the cut to enable the spine surgery specialist to observe your spinal column from within. After locating the troublesome disc portion, a small laser would be put into the small cut and used in cutting through the portion of the disc causing compression. The sliced disc section would then be eliminated, and the cut site would be stitched back.

After Surgery

In this stage, you'll be sent to a recovery chamber where your vitals would be monitored while the anesthetic wears off. Once stabilized, you should be able to return home 1 or 2 hours after surgery. Make arrangements with a family member or friend to take you home. A spine surgery specialist would determine when you'll be able to drive safely again.


After a discectomy, you could generally return to your job within a few weeks or days, although this would take up to 3 months to resume normal activity. The time it takes to recuperate from sedentary work can be as little as 2 to 4 weeks or as much as eight to twelve weeks for tasks that are physically demanding like jobs that necessitate heavy lifting. 

You'll probably be subject to several restrictions for the first 2 weeks after recovery to speed up the healing process of your spine till it gets more stable. Such limitations include:

  • Not lifting anything weighing 5 pounds or more
  • No lifting, twisting, or bending
  • No operating or driving of any type of automobile until you have discussed it with the surgeon
  • No physically demanding activities, such as exercise, housework, sexual activity, or yardwork 
  • No alcohol should be consumed during the initial stages of recovery and/or even while using narcotic pain killers

Your physician would recommend physiotherapy to aid in your recovery. Physiotherapy often begins with 2 to 3 sessions per week for 4 to 6 weeks. Your physiotherapist will consult and organize with your surgeon, to determine whether you require additional visits once the initial schedule is nearing completion.

How to Spot a Good Spine Surgeon

You must participate as much as possible in your healthcare. This also applies to choosing a laser spine surgery Los Angeles doctor. Several managed care plans limit your options, but if you're able to select your surgeon, here are some suggestions to look for in a spine surgery specialist:

  • Choose a spine surgeon who spends at least 50 percent of her or his time treating spinal disorders. A medical practitioner who treats predominantly spine patients would be more abreast of modern technology and treatments than a specialist who only treats spine patients on occasion
  • Verify that the spine surgery specialist is board certified and has received fellowship training in the field of spine. This implies that, in addition to the regular surgical eligibility requirements, the specialist has successfully finished a spine fellowship program that involves at least 1 additional year of practice in spine surgery
  • Discuss with the specialist her or his experience with the most recent technologies and techniques in spine surgery. Learn how many operations the specialist has completed. The surgeon's track record will reveal whether or not he or she is knowledgeable in the field. Ask if they would be willing to recommend any past patients who could be willing to talk to you about their experiences. Discuss your medical insurance with the surgeon or staff in the office to learn what is covered as well as what you could be paying for
  • Choose a specialist who has been recommended to you by a trustworthy source, like your primary care doctor, a friend, or a family member
  • Concerning the surgeon's credentials, ensure that the specialist you select is someone with whom you feel very comfortable. After all, choosing a doctor you can rely on is nearly as crucial as her or his competence. Good communication is vital in a doctor-patient relationship, thus consider the following:
  1. Does the surgeon fully address all of your concerns and give you sufficient details about your state?
  2. Do they offer you enough time?
  3. Is the specialist accessible, open-minded, and a good listener?
  4. Do they accept an alternative viewpoint?

Find a Spine Surgeon Near Me

Laser spine surgery holds a limited position in the treatment of spinal disorders. It could assist with a backache over a short period, but it comes with risks that could result in more health problems in the long run. Laser spine surgery is often not advised unless all other treatment alternatives for nerve root compression and low back ache have been exhausted.

If you're considering spine surgery, you should seek a competent spine surgeon who is versed in both minimally invasive and traditional procedures. Dr. Rappard's practice in Los Angeles focuses on the diagnosis and treatment of neck and back problems. Our specialists offer a wide range of treatment options to individuals suffering from chronic or severe spine problems. Call us today at 424-777-7463 to discuss the ideal treatment options for your condition.