Laser Helps Smokers Kick the Habit - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

11/26/07

Laser Helps Smokers Kick the Habit

Technician Tracy Walsh applies the laser to 28 different points on James' face, neck and hands. Technician Tracy Walsh applies the laser to 28 different points on James' face, neck and hands.

SAVANNAH, GA--For 37 years, James Holcomb has been lighting up. Day after day, cigarette after cigarette, pack after pack, until his wife finally had enough. "She told me my breath smelled bad," James laughed. "But she shamed me in to it. So I finally said, 'okay, I need to address this.'"

It's not the first time James tried to quit. He chewed gum, quit cold turkey and even underwent hypnosis to kick the habit. Nothing worked. So when he saw an advertisement for Laser Health of Savannah, he knew he had to try it.

The new technology is a 3B laser, usually used on people with persistent knee pain. The procedure is almost like acupuncture, without the needles. Technician Tracy Walsh applies the laser to 28 different points on James' face, neck and hands. Walsh says the procedure is totally painless and helps curb a smoker's cravings. "Certain cell functions are stimulated with the laser. And it will release endorphins, so those endorphins will help you so you're not actually feeling those cravings," she explained.

But it's up to the smoker to actually kick the habit of reaching for a cigarette. Which for James was the hardest part of the program. "You have to have a little will power. Because even now, without the nicotine craving, I still occasionally have thoughts of a cigarette," James told us. He said the habit usually hits him hard after eating a meal.

The laser treatment has a 65 percent success rate. To ensure her client's success, Tracy makes them blow into a carbon monoxide detector every time they come to the clinic. It's no problem for James, two months after his treatment, he still hasn't picked up a cigarette.

The smoking program also consists of a consultation each week with the technician for a total of three sessions. The cost is $349. Laser Health of Savannah also uses the laser in a weight loss program. The cost for that is $399.

The use of the 3B laser has not been approved by the Federal Drug Administration for either of these programs. Laser Health of Savannah is conducting a study under an independent institutional review board. All clients and their cases are reviewed by principal investigator Matthew Conneff, a registered respiratory therapist in Savannah. The institutional review board was set up through Atlanta Laser Training and is administered through Texas Applied Biomedical Services.

For more information on Laser Health of Savannah programs, you can call them at 912.354.4546.

For more information on lasers, visit the FDA's website.

Reported by: Melanie A. Ruberti, mruberti@wtoc.com

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