Woman receiving facial laser therapy

Laser Applicators & 6 Important Factors Involved In Choosing The Correct Applicator Size

Laser therapy has grown in use over recent years as more therapists and patients consider it as an option for treatment of soft tissue and other injuries. In this article, we shall first explain the role of the laser applicator unit.

Laser applicators come in several sizes. For any therapist, a key question is the choice of the correct applicator size for a particular type of therapy. The second part of this article will provide some guidelines on how to approach this important question.

Role of Applicators in Laser Therapy

Closeup image of laser applicators of various sizes
Laser applicators of various sizes

The laser applicator unit plays a crucial role in delivering laser therapy, a form of treatment that utilizes low-level laser or cold laser technology to stimulate healing and alleviate pain. The laser applicator unit serves as the device through which the laser energy is emitted and applied to the target area of the body. Here are the key functions and components of the laser applicator unit:

  1. Laser Emitter: The laser applicator unit houses the laser emitter, which generates and emits the therapeutic laser beam. The laser beam is typically a non-thermal, low-level laser, often in the red or near-infrared wavelength range. This specific wavelength of light penetrates the skin without causing harm or discomfort.
  2. Control Panel: The control panel on the laser applicator unit allows the healthcare professional or therapist to set and adjust various parameters of the laser therapy session. These parameters may include the power or intensity of the laser, treatment duration, and any pre-programmed treatment protocols specific to the condition being treated.
  3. Treatment Probe or Handpiece: The treatment probe or handpiece is the component of the laser applicator unit that comes into direct contact with the patient’s skin. It contains the laser emitter and may have additional features such as built-in cooling mechanisms or interchangeable attachments for different treatment modalities.
  4. Energy Delivery Modes: Laser applicator units may offer different energy delivery modes, such as continuous wave or pulsed modes. Continuous wave mode delivers a steady stream of laser energy, while pulsed mode delivers the energy in intermittent bursts. Pulsed mode can be beneficial for certain conditions as it allows for optimal tissue absorption and minimizes heat buildup.
  5. Safety Features: Laser applicator units are designed with safety features to protect both the patient and the operator. These may include built-in safety sensors to detect skin contact or proper alignment of the laser beam, automatic shut-off mechanisms, and indicators to ensure the correct functioning of the device.
  6. Portability and Ergonomics: Laser applicator units come in various sizes and designs to accommodate different treatment settings. Some units are handheld and portable, allowing for easy maneuverability and treatment in various locations. Ergonomic design features ensure comfortable handling and optimal control during treatment sessions.

During a laser therapy session, the laser applicator unit is held by the therapist and directed to the targeted area of the body. The laser beam emitted from the applicator penetrates the skin and interacts with the underlying tissues. The light energy is absorbed by the cells, stimulating various physiological processes such as increased blood circulation, improved cellular metabolism, reduced inflammation, and enhanced tissue repair.

The laser applicator unit, along with the expertise of the healthcare professional or therapist, plays a crucial role in delivering precise and effective laser therapy. By using the appropriate settings and techniques, the laser applicator unit helps harness the therapeutic benefits of low-level laser energy, promoting healing and providing pain relief for a wide range of musculoskeletal and dermatological conditions.

Choosing The Correct Laser Applicator Size

For a laser therapy session to achieve its intended effect, it is important to use the correct size of applicator. We will now consider the criteria involved in making this important decision.

When selecting the correct laser applicator size for a particular type of therapy, several important criteria should be considered. These criteria help ensure optimal treatment outcomes and target the specific needs of the patient. Here are 6 key factors to consider:

  1. Treatment Area: The size of the laser applicator should match the size of the treatment area. For smaller or more precise treatment areas, a smaller applicator with a focused beam may be suitable. Conversely, larger treatment areas may require a larger applicator or one that covers a wider surface area to deliver the laser energy effectively.
  2. Depth of Penetration: The depth at which the laser energy needs to penetrate the tissues is an important consideration. Different laser wavelengths have varying levels of tissue penetration. Deeper tissues may require longer wavelengths, while superficial or localized conditions may be effectively treated with shorter wavelengths.
  3. Treatment Goals: The specific treatment goals and desired outcomes should guide the choice of the laser applicator size. For example, if the goal is to reduce pain and inflammation in a specific joint, a smaller applicator that can target that area precisely may be preferable. If the goal is to promote healing in a larger muscle group, a larger applicator that can cover a broader surface area may be more suitable.
  4. Patient Comfort: Patient comfort and tolerance play a role in selecting the appropriate laser applicator size. The size and design of the applicator should allow for easy handling and maneuverability during the treatment session. Consideration should be given to patient-specific factors such as the size and contours of the body part being treated to ensure a comfortable and effective therapy experience.
  5. Treatment Protocol: The recommended treatment protocol or guidelines for a particular condition may provide insights into the appropriate laser applicator size. Manufacturers often provide guidelines indicating the suggested applicator size based on the condition being treated. Consulting with experienced healthcare professionals or therapists who are knowledgeable about laser therapy can also provide valuable guidance in determining the ideal applicator size.
  6. Device Specifications: The laser therapy device being used may have specific applicator size options available. The device’s specifications, including its power output, treatment modes, and compatibility with different applicators, should be considered when selecting the appropriate size.

It is important to note that the selection of the laser applicator size should be made in consultation with qualified healthcare professionals or therapists who have expertise in laser therapy. They can assess the specific needs of the patient, consider the condition being treated, and provide guidance on the most suitable applicator size to achieve the desired therapeutic outcomes.


In this article, we have presented an explanation of the role of the applicator in laser therapy and suggested some guidelines for choosing the correct applicator size for a particular type of therapy. We hope that readers will find this information illuminating as well as useful in their professional practices.

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