The Critical Need for the ABLS
The ABLS is different than most medical specialty boards. Lasers are used in many medical and surgical specialties, so the Board is not specialty specific. Some claim that no other board is founded on a device (such as the laser). That is not so, because the American Board of Radiology and the American Board of Nuclear Medicine are both founded on devices: the CT scanner and the gamma camera and its tomographic variants. The ABLS is the only medical specialty board in the world that provides certifications in laser surgery and medicine.
There are many kinds of lasers and light devices used in medicine today . Lasers are capable of cutting, coagulating, ablating, and welding living tissue by one or more of these distinct biophysical processes: photothermolysis, photochemolysis, photopyrolysis, and/or photoplasmolysis.
The impact of these processes on living tissue is determined by a variety of specific attributes of lasers, and their use, including, wavelength, energy output, absorption of wavelengths by various tissue characteristics (chromophores), power density, delivery system, spot size, pulse frequency, and how the medical practitioner uses the laser. The latter is the skill in applying the beam, even properly set, to the treatment area relative to distance from the tissue, time over the treatment area, use of overlapping sweeps, and other factors.
In short, lasers and their clinical application involve complex biophysical processes, settings and skills, and are completely different than scalpels, saws, drills, and electrosurgery. Traditional tools basically result in what you see is what you get. In addition to the clinical application of lasers and light in medical procedures, there are a wide variety of safety aspects and protocols clinicians need to thoroughly understand and put into practice.
As a result, there is a critical need for the ABLS. Since 1984, the ABLS has certified hundreds of practitioners worldwide in many medical specialties including otolaryngology, gynecology, osteopathic medicine, neurology, ophthalmology, dentistry, veterinary medicine, and many disciplines or cosmetic surgery and dermatologic procedures.
Many Diplomates of the Board are also members of other medical societies and organizations such as the ASLMS, AACS, ASPS, ASDS, ALD, and A4M among others. Only two medical societies or institutes currently offer any laser fundamentals courses related to medicine. The ABLS is the only organization that offers board credentialing in fundamental laser and light science, bio-tissue interaction, laser safety, and specific cosmetic and dental procedures. The ABLS offers comprehensive study materials, and the rigorous written and oral examinations necessary for full board certification, and has lead the industry in doing so for nearly 30 years. The Board highly recommends its full certification for all laser and light practitioners.
History and Mission of the Board
The American Board of Laser Surgery was founded in 1984 by physicians, physicists and other medical practitioners from various fields who were experienced in the fundamental science and clinical applications of lasers. They shared a concern for the safe and efficacious use of lasers in medicine and surgery. They believed that the increasing complexity and utilization of lasers in treating patients had created a need for the establishment of key standards of knowledge, competence, and experience for those who used lasers in medicine.
Many individual physicians, hospital administrators, chairmen of credentialing committees, and other concerned persons expressed a desire for an organization that would fulfill these needs. In doing so, they recognized that lasers are sophisticated instruments requiring special knowledge and experience for safe and effective use in surgery and other medical procedures.
From the very beginning of the era of lasers in clinical use, iatrogenic, laser-related injuries and deaths were occurring among patients. This was the incentive for the founding of the American Board of Laser Surgery. Today, deaths are rare, but burns, complications and sub-optimal outcomes are still all too common.
The Mission of the ABLS is to educate and credential as many qualified laser and light practitioners as possible to ensure the efficacious and safe outcomes for patients. The specific objectives are to:
1. Establish levels of knowledge and clinical experience, for those medical practitioners across
medical specialties who utilize lasers and other light-based devices, which demonstrate a
competent understanding of lasers physics, bio-physics and clinical safety.
2. Provide study materials and certifying examinations in the physics, bio-physics and clinical
use and safety of lasers and other light-based technologies – for qualified candidates seeking
certification through demonstrating their knowledge in the use of lasers and light, based on
competent understanding as defined by the Board; and to award certification based upon
successful completion of the Board’s study programs and written and oral examinations.
3. Educate as many qualified candidates as possible whom the Board judges, based on their
credentials, can benefit from the certification program to become more knowledgeable in the
use of lasers and light-based devices, and thereby increase the chances of their efficacious and
safe use of these devices.
4. Provide, as may be beneficial in the Board’s judgment, current information relevant to the
efficacious and safe applications of lasers and other light-based technologies, to candidates for
certification, Diplomates of the Board, medical institutions, governing authorities, and the
general medical community.
The Board’s Officers and Directors are well recognized practitioners in their respective fields
and lecture internationally on a variety of topics related to the practice of laser medicine and