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Before 'Hello,' Vocal Cord Surgery Saved Adele's Voice

LOS ANGELES (  — Some of Adele's best-loved songs might have never been recorded if it weren't for a high-tech procedure that saved her voice less than five years ago.

Adele recalled how within months of releasing her hit 2011 album, "21," she said she began to realize that her voice was going away. To get it back, she needed laser surgery.

"Yeah, I had laser surgery," the singer told Anderson Cooper on "60 Minutes. "[They] put lasers down your throat, cut off the polyp, and kind of laser your hemorrhage back together and fix it."

The operation was handled by Dr. Steven Zeitiels, who specializes in vocal restoration at Massachusetts General Hospital. He has also operated on other stars including Steven Tyler, as well as less vocally-gifted people such as sports coaches and teachers who have lost their voices from overuse.

But the stakes were especially high given Adele's status as the burgeoning voice of her generation.

He believes Adele's hemorrhaged polyp arose from either overuse or singing while she was sick. He said the surgery targeted the polyp.

"The strategy ... is to remove the mass, which is benign," he said. "That was done with hand instruments and then one seals the blood vessel off with a KTP laser -- referred to as a 'green light laser.'"

The surgery might have been routine, but the recovery wasn't easy.

For one, Adele said she couldn't speak normally for about five weeks to allow her vocal cords to heal. Instead, she used a computer to speak for her.

"I typed the words in and it speaks for you," she told Cooper. "But the great thing is I found one that can swear, so I still really get my point across."

Years later, in the wake of the release of her latest album "25," and chart-topping single "Hello," it's clear the operation was a resounding success.

Zeitels said many patients can expect similarly favorable outcomes -- even if their voices will never quite achieve Adele's perfect pitch.

"I think she's well positioned to have a tremendously long and successful career," he said.

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