If you or someone you love are about to undergo spinal surgery, chances are you’re pretty nervous. The idea of having your back cut wide open with long incisions, having your muscle tissues pulled aside, can be very frightening.
But did you know that it doesn’t have to be that way?
If you choose to have a laser surgery, you will have a tiny incision (less than one inch long in some cases, and up to only two inches at max). This may limit the scope of the surgeon, but it also severely limits the amount of time you spend healing up.
How does it differ from traditional spine surgery?
Other than the obvious, the first main difference is that your surgeon will be able to take away the sources of nerve pain and sensitivity.
This is done by using the laser to remove the ends of and decrease the size of the disks that sit between your vertebrae. This helps to relieve pain caused by pressure, and the process is called ablation.
There is another procedure called a Laminotomy, which is done to remove what you can think of as the “meat” of your disk. This can also be done with nearby bone growths and spurs. This decompresses the size of your disk and reduces any pressure you may be having on your spine and surrounding tissues.
Are you a good candidate for laser spine surgery?
It’s true that most laser spine surgeons will opt for traditional surgeries for those who need it. For example, we mentioned earlier that it limits the scope for the surgeon. If you’re having a large portion of your spine operated on, going a traditional route may be better for you. However, only a surgeon can say. It won’t hurt anything to at least ask about it.
People who are suffering from smaller issues like spinal stenosis, bulging or herniated disks, and bone spurs are typically great candidates for laser spine surgery.
If you’re suffering from a more severe injury, such as severe back injury due to a car crash, your chances of finding a surgeon who is willing to perform laser surgery on you are much lower.
Will your insurance cover the cost of your laser spine surgery?
This is a tricky question to answer. The truth is that finding an insurance company to cover any portion of a laser spine surgery is pretty hit and miss.
Some insurance companies will offer to pay a small percentage, some will cover most, and some will even cover all. But many insurance companies don’t cover any costs associated with a laser spine surgery.
You should talk to your surgeon as well as your insurance company to see if a) the surgeon will work out payment plans with you and b) if your insurance company will cover any part of the cost of your surgery.
It’s important that you keep an open line of communication with your surgeon when it comes to laser spine surgery. If you feel that you’re a good candidate, but your surgeon is unwilling, you are free to ask for a second or third opinion.
Be sure that you do research on whatever surgeon or medical center you choose to go with, and ask around support forums for other peoples’ experiences and recommendations.
Many people have found relief with laser spine surgery, but others have found that it only complicated things. Only you and your surgeon can determine if laser spine surgery is good for you.