Stone Age blades are still cutting it in modern surgery

Even today, a small number of surgeons are using an ancient technology to carry out fine incisions that they say heal with minimal scarring.¬†Obsidian — a type of volcanic glass — can produce cutting edges many times finer than even the best steel scalpels.

Dr. Lee Green, professor and chairman of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta, says he routinely uses obsidian blades.

“The biggest advantage with obsidian is that it is the sharpest edge there is, it causes very little trauma to tissue, it heals faster, and more importantly, it heals with less scarring,” he said.
“It makes for the best cosmetic outcome.”
He explained that steel scalpels at a microscopic level have a rough cutting edge that tears into tissue, a function of the crystals that make up the metal. Obsidian, meanwhile, cleaves into a fine and continuous edge when properly cut.
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