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What is laser surgery for benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)?

Marc B. Garnick, MD
Hematology & Oncology
Laser surgery is widely available for treating benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Although usually performed in a hospital setting, laser surgery is less traumatic than transurethral resection of the prostate (TURP), an incision-free surgical procedure that cuts away excess prostate tissue with an electrical loop, and most patients go home the same day.

Surgeons originally used low-energy lasers for these procedures. Now high-energy lasers are becoming more popular. The advantage of these over TURP or low-energy laser sources to remove prostate tissue is that bleeding is reduced and the catheter may be removed much earlier, often within 24 hours. Overnight hospitalization often is not needed. One type of high-energy laser, called a potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP) laser, is used during a procedure called photoselective vaporization of the prostate (PVP). During PVP, the surgeon can view the prostate and remove large amounts of tissue with little bleeding. Indeed, even patients on blood-thinning medication may undergo PVP while still taking their medications.

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