Veterinary CO2 Laser Surgery

CO2 lasers are the Gold Standard of surgical lasers because of their unique wavelength and precision. Tens of thousands of CO2 lasers are used daily across North America in various veterinary and human specialties.

VetScalpel has its roots in Luxar technology, introduced in 1991 as the first soft-tissue dental CO2 laser designed for the small office environment. VetScalpel further advances the flexible fiber, all-metal tube surgical CO2 laser through a variety of improvements. Handpiece, laser pulsing, system integration, and serviceability technology improvements are summarized below.

Wavelength Technology

The CO2 laser wavelength of 10,600 nm is universally regarded as best suited for soft tissue laser surgery across all specialties, because it is highly absorbed by water, has a very thin extinction depth and provides excellent hemostasis.

The diode laser wavelength of 800-1,000 nm, on the other hand, is poorly absorbed by soft tissue, about 10-100 times worse than the CO2 laser wavelength. To avoid a massive spread of necrosis, it should not be used surgically. Diodes are used as thermal devices and their hot glass tips are used to slowly pick at tiny amounts of tissue.

The Er:YAG laser wavelength’s extinction depth in soft tissue is 10 times shorter compared to the CO2 laser wavelength. This extinction depth allows for great cutting but poor hemostasis in soft tissue and limits Er:YAG applications to water-rich hard tissue where hemostasis is not required. Er:YAG technology requires sophisticated power supplies, cooling systems, and beam delivery components which contribute to a high end-user price and maintenance fees.

Handpiece and Beam Delivery Technologies

VetScalpel fiber waveguides are flexible, lightweight and made to last. Their scalpel-like handpieces improve the quality of CO2 laser surgery. Handpieces assure a natural feel valued by surgeons across all specialties. The VetScalpel laser provides for easy distal end calibration to verify fiber longevity. Many flexible fiber Luxar laser owners are still using their first and only fiber from the 1990s, over 20 years later.

In contrast, the bulky articulated arm is hard to maneuver and may cause arm fatigue. Each articulated arm is made from many high precision machined, expensive parts, and moving the laser can misalign the articulated arm assembly. Articulated arm lasers do not have distal end calibration capabilities, so its impossible to know if the power chosen is actually what comes out of the arm. Their antiquated technology dates back to the 1970s and requires annual maintenance through expensive field-service to assure power calibration.

Laser Tube Technology

The VetScalpel all-metal laser tube technology is superior to the antiquated glass-tube. All-metal CO2 laser tubes have record longevity (up to 45,000 hours). They are inexpensively re-chargeable, capable of handling up to 40g shocks and vibrations, and are easily pulsed and cooled even under the heaviest operating conditions.

Antiquated glass-tube technology is fragile, has a dangerously high running voltage (10,000+ volts), and has an inconvenient liquid flow to prevent the glass from cracking under heat. Additionally, glass tubes are difficult to pulse and have short longevity (1,000–10,000 hrs).

Laser Pulsing Technology

Glass-tube CO2 lasers have a shorter lifetime than all metal-laser tube lasers due to their metal electrodes being sputtered away. Glass tubes cannot be recharged, but need to be replaced, which is costly due to parts and expensive field service.

VetScalpel CO2 laser tube technology is free of electrode “sputtering” – all-metal laser tubes retain their pulsing ability for a very long time, up to 45,000 hrs (7+ yrs), making CO2 laser surgery even more affordable and profitable for the clinician. In terms of longevity and excellent pulsing capabilities, LightScalpel laser tubes are no different from durable and long-lasting all-metal CO2 laser tubes used in rugged military and industrial applications (e.g., CO2 laser applications in date and batch-code marking of beer bottles on fast-moving conveyors, where stops and miss-prints are unacceptable).

Laser System Integration

The VetScalpel laser is compact, lightweight and durable, a great fit for the busiest surgical suite. The all-metal laser tube, low voltage (32 volts) power supplies, and long-lasting fiber beam delivery system make this laser the best of its kind for soft tissue surgeries.

Articulated arm lasers with glass-tubes are an old technology that was popular in the previous century. They are heavy, bulky, require gentle handling and are expensive to ship. They are also relatively short-lasting and require expensive, annual check-ups by field-service engineers.


Thousands of VetScalpel lasers are already in use and continue receiving raving reviews from veterinarians as well as dog and cat owners. In the course of numerous surgeries performed with Luxar and VetScalpel veterinary CO2lasers, a very substantial body of clinical evidence [1-7] has been accumulated that demonstrates the wide array of clinical applications and many benefits of CO2 laser surgery. The VetScalpel team is happy to share this body of clinical cases for you to embrace Aesculight surgical techniques faster and with more confidence. One of the most detailed educational resources is the digital “Atlas of CO2 Laser Surgery Procedures”[7] by Dr. John C. Godbold.

In addition, on our Case Studies page, you can read numerous articles, all of which appeared in the Educational Series of the Veterinary Practice News, that cover a wide variety of VetScalpel laser-assisted surgeries.

Technical Support and Service

Luxarcare, VetScalpel’s sister company, provides outstanding support to 12,000+ Luxar lasers, (Luxar is VetScalpel’s predecessor that also uses the flexible-fiber and all-metal laser tubes).  We are second to none when it comes to CO2 laser service around the globe. Our compact laser ships inexpensively, quickly and safely, and no costly field service is needed.

Articulated arm lasers with glass-tubes are serviced by expensive field service, as they cannot be shipped safely without custom crates which are far too costly.

The Best Surgical Laser Technology All-Around

As described above, the VetScalpel soft-tissue CO2 laser is superior to diodes (non-laser instruments), Er:YAGs (which provide poor hemostasis) and articulated arm CO2 lasers (the bulky, expensive alternative that provides poor accessibility).


  1. G.M. Peavy, P.E. Wilder-Smith, “Laser Surgery” in “Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Dogs and Cats,” Eds. F.J.M. Verstraete & M.J. Lommer, Elsevier, 2012.
  2. D.J. Coluzzi, R.A. Convissar “Atlas of Laser Applications in Dentistry”, Quintessence, 2007.
  3. N. Berger, P. Eeg “Veterinary Laser Surgery,” Blackwell Publishing, 2006.
  4. J.C. Godbold, “Atlas of CO2 Laser Surgery Procedures,” CD-ROM, Southern Digital Publishing, 2012.
  5. J.C. Godbold, “CO2 Surgical Lasers,” Online Workshop,, 2012
  6. “A Compendium: CO2 Surgical Laser Case Studies,” Aesculight LLC, 2012.
  7. Aesculight Surgical CO2 Laser, On-board digital “Atlas of CO2 Laser Surgical Procedures,” Aesculight LLC, 2012


I upgraded to a 3020. I think it’s terrific. It’s faster and easier, and I love setting my own standby thresholds.

Jim Antunano, DVM
President, Veterinary Surgical Laser Society, Animal Medical Diagnostic Center, Valrico, FL

I LOVE this laser! It is simply a joy to work with. I especially appreciate the programmability that allows each individual laser surgeon the option to adjust particular user settings such as timing delays of the smoke evacuator and standby modes, common power...

Barbara Gores, DVM
Barbara R. Gores, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Surgeons, Tucson, AZ

Easy to use, fun to use, neat to do surgeries we would not have tried with a scalpel, and the only piece of technology that gives us income and profit every day that we use it, which is five days a week.

Richard C. Trayes, DVM
Cherry Ridge Veterinary Clinic, Honesdale, PA

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