Varicose veins are a common condition in the general population and especially affect women and those with a family history. In the earliest stages they may appear as ‘spider veins’ which gradually enlarge with time to become palpable dilated varicose veins.
In the past there were few options other than invasive surgical procedures (ligation, stripping, avulsion) available to those with varicose veins, and only the worst affected patients were offered this option. Currently, sclerotherapy (micro-injections of solution into the problem veins) is the most used treatment for abnormal leg veins. However, recent technological advances have seen the development of the world’s first effective laser treatment of minor to moderate leg veins. Either treatment can usually be done as a walk-in, walk-out procedure following appropriate assessment. Sometimes it is necessary to assess the veins more closely with a duplex ultrasound prior to treatment. Larger veins are often referred for ultrasound guided sclerotherapy(UGS) or endovenous laser ablation(EVLA). Patients should avoid flying for 4 weeks prior to or following a treatment of sclerotherapy.
Image: Supplied by Cutera
How does blood circulate in the legs following treatment?
We have two sets of veins in our legs – deep and superficial. The deep veins are important, and hence deep venous thrombosis is a serious and potentially life threatening condition. These veins are left intact by the treatment. Treatment by either sclerotherapy or laser aims to treat the diseased and abnormally dilated superficial veins. The superficial veins are not necessary for normal circulation and that is why such a variety of treatments have been used in the past.
How does laser spider vein removal work?
The laser uses a focused beam of energy, which targets the pigment in the blood. Without disrupting the skins natural surface the heat generated from the laser coagulates the blood inside the vessel causing it to collapse and seal. Over a few weeks, the vessels begin to reduce, and the body’s scavenging cells remove the blood. Over a period of 4 to 6 weeks, the veins are reabsorbed by the body and disappear.
Are there any side effects?
Both spider veins and varicose veins treatments are extremely well tolerated and serious side effects such as deep venous thrombosis are very uncommon. Minor temporary side effects include bruising, pigmentation and matting. A full list of potential side effects will be outlined in a consent form prior to your treatment.
How many treatments are necessary?
This will largely depend on the severity and complexity of veins being treated. Sometimes it is necessary to perform a series of 4 treatments one month apart. Laser treatments are usually faster in effectiveness.