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Laser Surgery for Genital Warts

British Columbia Specific Information

Human Papillomavirus (HPV) is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections (STIs). HPV can cause genital warts and cancers of the anus, cervix, mouth and throat, penis, vagina, and vulva. The HPV vaccines protect against infection from certain types of HPV, however, they do not get rid of the infection once it has occurred.

Health Canada has approved 2 HPV vaccines:

  • Cervarix® (HPV2)
  • Gardasil®9 (HPV9)

To determine if you are eligible to receive the free vaccine, see HealthLinkBC File #101b Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Vaccines, visit ImmunizeBC – HPV (Human Papillomavirus), or speak with a public health nurse at your local public health unit. Those not eligible for the free HPV vaccine can purchase it at most pharmacies and travel clinics and at some sexual health clinics.

To learn more about HPV infection, see HealthLinkBC File #101a Human Papillomavirus (HPV) Infection and Genital Warts. For more information on STIs, sexual health information, where to get tested and other sexual health services in your area, visit SmartSexResource.

Surgery Overview

A laser can be used to destroy genital warts.

Laser surgery may be done in a doctor's office or clinic, a hospital, or an outpatient surgery centre. Local or general anesthetic may be used. Which one you get depends on how many warts need treatment and the size of the area to be treated.

What To Expect

Recovery time depends on the location and number of warts removed. Healing usually occurs in 2 to 4 weeks.

Avoid sexual intercourse until the treated area heals and the soreness is gone. (This usually takes 1 to 3 weeks. It depends on the size of the area treated.)

Why It Is Done

Laser surgery may be done when:

  • Medicine didn't work to remove the warts.
  • Warts are widespread.
  • Warts need to be treated during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about when treatment should be done during pregnancy.

How Well It Works

Laser surgery often works to remove warts. But warts may come back after surgery.

Risks

Laser surgery may cause any of the following:

  • Pain, swelling, or itching
  • Sores in the area treated
  • Tissue that sticks together
  • Scarring

Credits

Current as of:
February 11, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Sarah Marshall MD - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Kevin C. Kiley MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology