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Changing the Voice ~ Pulsed Dye Laser


Research has shown that using Pulsed Dye Laser surgery for the purpose of changing the voice is effective for 96.8% of patients undergoing the procedure. These results were published last year in the Acta Oto-Laryngogica an ENT journal. Often there is hesitation about undergoing voice surgery.

The belief that vocal cord surgery will damage or hurt the voice is a prevalent notion, which is magnified in those that use their voice for professional purposes, such as vocalists, singers, and teachers.

The foremost concerns regarding voice surgery are those of a long recovery period and dissatisfaction with the voice change.

Vocal sounds are produced by vibrations of both vocal cords. A louder and higher voice pitch requires a greater vibration and can lead to vocal cords being damaged easier. Voice needs 150-200 cycle of vibrations to speak at a normal pitch and vibration cycles of up to 2000 when shouting. Frequent and sustained vibrations can cause polyps or hemorrhage of the vocal cords.

Vocal polyps can cause symptoms such as hoarseness, difficulty in achieving a high pitch and trouble acquiring a clear voice.  Coupled with coughing and a feeling of fullness in the throat, these symptoms can cause dyspnea if neglected.

Vocal nodules are another voice disorder that is caused by over utilization of the voice over a prolonged period. The condition causes the cord mucosa to become hardened skin. Vocal nodules can be cured using medical treatment and voice therapy; the success rate for these interventions is high.

Vocal cord polyps, on the other hand, have a tendency to worsen without surgical intervention. In general, a clinical examination is recommended when the voice has been hoarse over a 2 week period. Vocal polyp surgery is usually performed under general anesthesia. Polyps are removed using a micro instrument in conjunction with a powerful microscope.

There are two primary disadvantages to this traditional approach. The first of these is the required use of general anesthesia (which presents its own inherent complications) and the other is the recovery period which typically spans about 2 months for a return of the normal voice. For these reasons many patients hesitate to have surgery for the correction of vocal polyps.

The Yeson Voice Center was the first in Asia to use special laser treatments under local anesthesia to surgically remove vocal cord polyps. This cutting edge method has proved to be both effective and safe. Last September, Dr. Hyung-Tae Kim director of Yeson Voice Center, published his clinical research in the aforementioned journal Acta Oto-Larygogica under the title “Office –based 585nm Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) treatment for vocal polyp”. The research demonstrated PDL’S effectiveness using objective data. Dr. Kim’s research was based on 62 patients who underwent vocal polyp surgery using PDL in the period between September 2005 and December 2006.

Sixty patients, out of the sixty-two that underwent the procedures displayed perfectly regressed polyps. Two patients showed a success rate above 95% and all displayed mending voices upon post-surgical analysis. The presenting voice problem was reduced just 7 days after surgery and the surgical area was recovered completely. Normalcy of the voice was accomplished 3 weeks after surgery.

PDL is a very effective treatment not only for vocal polyp but for other diseases and conditions as well. Among its applications are those for the treatment of conditions that are the result of voice misuse such as vocal cord hemorrhage, vocal nodule, and scarred vocal cord and edema. PDL is a successful and safe procedure because it does not require general anesthesia which can result in other complications.

As a result of using local anesthesia, the duration of the surgical procedure is shortened as well as the postoperative recovery period. Although this method has been in use in the United States, the Yeson Voice Center was the first to employ it in Asia. PDL is a promising treatment that will greatly benefit patients seeking relief from voice problems.

Hyung-Tae Kim, MD, PhD is the leading specialist at the Institute of Performing Art Medicine, Yeson Voice Center in South Korea.  His specialty Clinic is a member of the Medical Tourism Association.  You may contact Dr. Kim at Yeson Voice Center,,  638-13 Ssangbong Bldg., 2nd Fl. Shinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, Korea. E-mail: / Tel: +82-2-3444-0559 / Fax: +82-2-3443-2621.

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