Laser exposure time and irradiance are crucial parameters governing the process of thermal damage. The goal of our in vitro study was to study and determine optimal parameters for the onset of coagulation and carbonization at three different wavelengths (980, 1070 and 1940 nm). We also compared photothermal effects at these three wavelengths by varying laser exposure time and irradiance. Fresh bovine liver specimens were used for experimentation. The onset of thermal damage at different irradiances and for different exposure time was studied macroscopically and histologically. Photothermal damage or lesion volume generally decreased with irradiance and increasing exposure time. We observed an exponential and linear relationship between irradiance and exposure time for specific thermal endpoints. These specific endpoints were the onset of (i) coagulation, and (ii) carbonization. The time interval or difference between these specific endpoints termed as Delta t (t(carbonization) - t(coagulation)) (s) was also determined. This relation between irradiance and exposure time will make possible the pre-estimation of thermal tissue lesion volume before operation, and photothermal therapy may thus be performed with minimum side effects on liver tissue.