Laser surgery uses an intense beam of light, or laser, to burn and destroy the wart tissue. It is usually done in a doctor's office or clinic. Local or general anesthetic may be used, depending on the number of warts to be removed or the size of the area to be treated.
The wound will be painful for a few days after laser surgery. Recovery time depends on the location and number of warts removed.
After laser surgery, call your doctor if you have:
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 1 week.
- A fever.
- Severe pain.
- Bad-smelling or yellowish discharge, which may mean an infection. Cleaning the wound area helps prevent infection.
Laser surgery may be considered when:
- Medicine has failed, and it is necessary to remove the warts.
- Warts are large or widespread.
- Warts need to be treated during pregnancy. Your doctor will recommend when treatment should be done during pregnancy.
Laser surgery may help when other treatments don't work, but it doesn't seem to work better than cryosurgery or electrosurgery.1
There is a slight risk of infection associated with laser surgery. Signs of infection include:
- Increased pain, swelling, redness, tenderness, or heat.
- Red streaks extending from the area.
- Discharge of pus.
- Fever of 100°F (38°C) or higher with no other cause.
- Normally causes no scarring.
- Requires local anesthetic.
- Is more expensive than most other methods of wart removal.
- Is not recommended as an initial treatment.
- Is usually used for large, hard-to-cure warts.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Wolff K, Johnson RA (2009). Human papillomavirus infections. In Fitzpatrick's Color Atlas and Synopsis of Clinical Dermatology, 6th ed., pp. 787-794. New York: McGraw-Hill.
By Healthwise Staff Primary Medical Reviewer Patrice Burgess, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Last Revised September 7, 2012