INDIANAPOLIS - Could just five minutes and a few zaps of light help you quit a decades-old bad habit? A new, pain-free laser is being used to do just that.
Deborah Dorman is a realtor. After six treatments with the “Rapid Heal System,” she’s ditched her cane.
“I had very little function (before the therapy),” Dorman said.
But after the therapy?
"I didn't have to just take elevators or walk sideways down the steps."
The low-level laser stimulates pain receptors, causing the body to release endorphins.
But it's being used in a completely new way for patient Barry Lantz.
"I've tried many, many times to quit,” Lantz said. "I've done the prescription drugs, I've done that patch, I've done many things - unsuccessfully."
Lantz has smoked for decades - since he was 22 years old. But he's hoping this laser will keep him from lighting up for good. He says he noticed a difference after the first five-minute treatment.
"The anxiety that comes with smoking and the anxiousness of wanting to go have a cigarette was totally, totally reduced for five days,” Lantz said. “It was astounding. I didn't think about it. I didn't want it."
"There was a tremendous amount of research in the acupuncture literature that discovered that there were specific nicotine-receptor sites located on the ear and the hand," Chernoff Cosmetic Surgery’s Dr. Gregory Chernoff said.
Dr. Chernoff said stimulating those areas with the laser blocks the nicotine receptors in the brain, decreasing cravings and withdrawal.
Although a skeptic himself at first, he's seen huge success clinically.
"We've had patients who were smoking two to three packs a day for 10 (or) 20 years who, within two weeks, just lost the desire."
Lantz hopes it's the last smoking cessation technique he'll ever have to try.
"I know that this is the first time that I've ever felt confident that it's possible," Lantz said.
Three treatments are typical, but occasionally a fourth is needed for those patients who are still having cravings.
Dr. Chernoff said like any therapy, you have to want to quit for it to work. A package of up to four treatments will cost several hundred dollars. Sales have been up since the new year.