Laser Surgery On Vocal Folds May Reduce The Chances Of Webbing

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If you have to have surgery on your vocal folds, look for a doctor that uses laser surgery instead of more conventional methods. Laser surgery on vocal folds might have a smaller chance of leading to a web, a type of scar tissue that can block the opening between the folds. While avoidance of webs is never guaranteed, using laser surgery could up your chances of having the procedure go smoothly without any major traumatic side effects.

Anatomy Lesson

Your vocal folds are literally two folds of tissue that collide with each other to produce sound. When the folds are together, air coming up from your lungs makes the folds vibrate, and this produces what are called voiced sounds. Voiced sounds include vowels and consonants like "b" and "d."

Trauma to Folds

Sometimes nodules or lumps can form on the folds. These can be idiopathic, forming for no reason, or they can be due to trauma such as the folds hitting each other in very harsh ways—kind of like calluses forming. The nodules can make your voice sound scratchy and weak.

Sometimes nodules can be treated with voice therapy, but other times they have to be removed surgically. Laser surgery is one procedure used to remove nodules. Your nasal passage and then vocal folds are numbed with a series of packs and drops of topical anesthetic. Once everything is numb, surgery using tools threaded through your nasal passage takes place, with lasers used to cut out the nodules.

Trauma Due to Surgery

The problem, though, is that any surgery is locally traumatic. In the case of nodules, cutting out the nodules is traumatic to the folds, even if it's going to eventually be beneficial. Sometimes webs can form after the surgery. UCLA notes that laser surgery might not lead to webbing as much as other forms of surgery.

The procedure to remove webs can be done with lasers or with a more conventional procedure that involves cutting open the larynx and then treating the area to prevent more webs from forming.

But of course, it's better to avoid webbing in the first place, so find a doctor who uses the newer laser procedures to remove or treat nodules. If your doctor says only conventional surgery will do, find out why and get a second opinion—it's always possible your doctor is right, but if you have a chance to get the less traumatic laser surgery, do so.