In the Middle Ages, back when antibiotics were inconceivable, and wounds were considered as grave as any deadly disease, treatment came under fire—literally. People burned open flesh to prevent blood loss, close amputations, seal gums after tooth extraction or even treat mental illness. Thankfully, this barbaric method soon made way for heated lancets and knives that produced the same therapeutic results as fire, without leaving patients as traumatized. In 1926, American scientist William T. Bovie invented a cautery tool made of iron and used it in collaboration with a physician friend who attempted to excise a tumor without excessive bleeding. The operation was successful, and electrosurgery was born.
Electrosurgery is simply cauterization that relies on electricity to generate the heat to achieve the doctor’s objectives. While the tools have changed, the uses have remained the same with a few additions, such as removing warts and other unsightly skin growths. The treatment is also generally safer today, with minimal bleeding, discomfort, and infection being the most serious side effects reported.