Pros & Cons of Laser Spine Surgery

Updated March 23, 2017

Many back pain sufferers have been told by traditional physicians that their pain can only be controlled by pain medication and physiotherapy because they are not good candidates for spinal surgery. In recent years, however, minimally invasive laser spine surgeries have become an increasingly popular trend for those seeking a way to end excruciating pain and regain their lives.

What Is Laser Spine Surgery?

Laser spine surgery is a endoscopic alternative to traditional spinal fusions through surgery to help alleviate pain to the lower and upper back and neck. Physicians use a laser to remove bone spurs, give relief to tangled nerves and relieve herniated disks that cause severe and debilitating pain for patients.

Benefits of Laser Spine Surgery

According to the Laser Spine Institute in Florida, laser spine surgery is an appealing alternative because it is performed under a local anesthetic along with IV sedation. This means that patients are awake but comfortable while the doctor performs the procedure. Because the main tool of surgery is a laser, there are also no large incisions or lengthy hospitalisation. Each procedure only lasts, on average, an hour, and recovery time is almost immediate. Many patients walk home within a few hours. Unlike conventional back surgeries, which can require surgeons to operate through a patient's front and risk injury to important organs, laser surgery is less intrusive and can involve less risk.

Drawbacks of Laser Spine Surgery

Because laser spine surgery is a relatively new procedure, having been developed in the late 1990s, it comes with risks. Some patients have reported damage to their bowels from failed surgeries or no results at all. News reports of numerous lawsuits against laser spine centres in the United States are available online. For example, The St. Petersburg Times, an award-winning newspaper in Florida, has detailed malpractice lawsuits against the Bonati Institute for laser spine surgery. Another drawback to the procedure is that it is expensive and not covered by most insurance plans. An average surgery is estimated to cost £19,500 at minimum, according to the Laser Spine Institute's website.

Finding a Physician

There are numerous laser spine clinics operating in the United States today, and more and more traditional physicians are considering the procedure's merits. However, laser spine facilities tend to exist only in major cities, such as Tampa, Fla., Los Angeles and New York. The best way to choose a physician is to get references from former or current patients who have already completed the procedure. Travelling to another state for treatment can also be an inconvenience if you suffer from a disability. However, reputable laser spine physicians exist. It can simply take effort to locate one in your area.


Most laser spine centres offer a consultation to determine if patients are good candidates for this procedure. Some centres charge a consultation fee while others do not. While most of those who apply are good candidates for laser spine surgery, a small percentage is not, according to the Laser Spine Institute's website. If you are considering this procedure, receive a free consultation from the Laser Spine Institute in Florida by filling out its online form (see References).

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About the Author

Angela Campbell began writing professionally in 1997 for Easley Publications in Easley, SC, and later for Gannett newspaper properties. A graduate of the University of South Carolina's mass communications and journalism program, she has won numerous South Carolina State Press Association awards for spot news reporting, business reporting, feature writing, photography and page design.