laser can be used to destroy
Laser surgery may be done
in a doctor's office or clinic, a hospital, or an outpatient surgery center.
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.
For women, abnormal cervical cell changes caused by HPV will be treated
differently than genital warts caused by HPV. Your doctor may recommend certain
types of surgery, such as laser surgery. To learn more about surgical
methods to treat abnormal cell changes, see the topic
Abnormal Pap Test.
What To Expect After Surgery
Recovery time depends on the location
and number of warts removed. Healing usually occurs in 2 to 4 weeks.
For men and women who have had laser surgery, call
your doctor if you have any of the following:
- Bleeding that lasts longer than 1
- A fever
- Severe pain
- Bad-smelling or
yellowish discharge, which may point to an infection
Avoid sexual intercourse until the treated area heals and
the soreness is gone (usually 1 to 3 weeks, depending on the size of the area
Why It Is Done
Laser surgery may be done
- Medicine has failed, and the warts need to be removed.
- Warts are widespread.
- Warts need to
be treated during pregnancy. Your doctor will recommend when treatment should
be done during pregnancy.
How Well It Works
In studies, laser surgery removed
warts in about 20 to 40 out of 100 people. But warts may return after surgery.1
Laser surgery is a safe treatment for pregnant
Laser surgery may cause any of the
- Pain, swelling, or
- Discharge from the vagina or penis
- Sores in the
- Tissue that sticks together
- Shedding of
- Urination that occurs in a wide, spraying stream, for
treatment done in the
urethra. Scarring of the penis is a possible side
effect that can result in problems with urination or
What To Think About
Doctors usually use laser surgery
for genital warts after other treatments have failed. Laser surgery for the
treatment of genital warts is more expensive than many other treatment
There are concerns that laser treatment may increase the
risk of having warts return by destroying the local immune system, which allows
inactive viruses to become active.
Laser surgery requires
specialized training and equipment. Some experts believe that the skill of the
doctor doing the laser surgery affects surgical success. People
thinking about laser surgery for genital warts should ask the doctor how many
times he or she has done this procedure and what his or her success
Warts that are difficult to treat may be managed by adding
other treatments, such as fluorouracil. Genital warts may be treated with
fluorouracil before or after laser surgery.
- If used before surgery, fluorouracil reduces
the size and number of warts that need laser treatment.
- If used
after surgery, fluorouracil may prevent genital warts from coming back.
An advantage of laser surgery is that adjacent and deep
tissue is not damaged during laser treatment.
warts may not cure a human papillomavirus (HPV) infection. The virus may remain
in the body in an inactive state after warts are removed. A person treated for
genital warts may still be able to spread the infection. Condoms may help
reduce the risk of HPV infection.
The benefits and effectiveness
of each type of treatment need to be compared with the side effects and cost.
Discuss this with your doctor.
Complete the surgery information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you prepare for this surgery.
Bonnez W, Reichman RC (2010).
Papillomaviruses. In GL Mandell et al., eds., Mandell, Douglas, and Bennett's Principles and Practice of Infectious Diseases, 7th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2035–2049.
Philadelphia: Churchill Livingstone Elsevier.
Primary Medical Reviewer
||Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer
||Kirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology
Current as of
||June 21, 2012