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We present a microscopically based vertical-cavity surface-emitting laser ͑VCSEL͒ model that treats plasma and lattice heating self-consistently and includes gain dispersion in a fashion facilitating the incorporation of many-body effects. This model is used to investigate the interplay of thermal effects and transverse mode behavior observed in recent experiments with large-aperture selectively oxidized VCSELs. We confirm that the highly divergent single-mode emission seen experimentally atdoi:10.1103/physreva.58.3279 fatcat:3whfdxhvjjfyzjmxdcscx23g3a