We used water and human skin tissue to compare the surgical potential of 100-fs and 200-ps laser pulses. For investigation of threshold behavior of 100-fs and 200-ps pulses, we use water as a model for tissue. In addition to having a lower threshold, we find that energy deposition is much more consistent with 100-fs pulses. We also compared 100-fs and 200-ps laser pulse effects on the surface and in the bulk of human skin tissue. On the surface, pulses with 100-fs and 200-ps duration leave similar size ablation regions. In the bulk both 100-fs and 200-ps pulses produce cavities, however, 100-fs pulses result in a smaller cavity size. On both the surface and in the bulk 100-fs pulses show less collateral tissue damage than 200-ps pulses.