Zap Your Varicose Veins with Laser Treatments
Are you tired of hiding your varicose veins under long pants and skirts every summer? If you start early, laser treatments can help zap those veins in time for “shorts season.” Simple or surface laser treatments and endovenous laser therapy (ELT) are the two most effective types of laser treatments for getting rid of unsightly varicose veins. ELT works best for larger varicose veins, while surface laser treatments work well for tiny varicose and spider veins (smaller than 3 mm).
How It Works
Lasers produce strong, focused beams of light that apply intense heat to a specific area. During simple laser treatments for veins, a strong burst of heat goes through the skin to “zap” a vein and damage it, causing scar tissue to form. Over time, this scar tissue closes up the vein and cuts off the vein’s source of blood. This causes the vein to die off and, eventually, to disappear. Surface laser treatments are aimed at eradicating secondary veins that are not needed for primary circulation.
What to Expect
Many people choose simple surface laser treatments to get rid of their varicose and spider veins because recovery time is short and no incisions or needles are used. While this form of vein therapy does not require surgery or general anesthesia, you may need some local anesthesia to minimize pain from the intense heat of the laser.
Most patients require 2-5 laser treatments to effectively remove their smaller varicose or spider veins. Treatments are typically schedule 6-12 weeks apart, and each treatment session lasts for roughly 15 to 20 minutes. Most patients return to their normal activities directly after treatment. Patients can expect to experience some redness, discoloration or swelling to the treated areas. These symptoms usually disappear in a few days, though some skin discoloration (bruising) can last for up to two months. Choose a vein specialist who has had ample experience with laser to help reduce your chances of experiencing any lasting skin discoloration or other issues.
Treatment for Larger Varicose Veins
If you have larger or deeper varicose veins, or very poor blood circulation, you will likely need endovenous laser treatment (ELT), also called endovenous laser ablation (EVLT). As with simple or surface laser therapy, you will not likely require general anesthesia, but you will need local anesthesia and, possibly, a light sedative. During ELT, your doctor makes a tiny cut in your skin and passes a laser fiber through a catheter into the varicose vein. The laser fiber will heat up the inside of the problem vein, sealing it off, allowing the healthy veins around the treated vein to take over normal blood flow. This treatment should make the vein disappear, as well as improve any negative symptoms caused by the varicose vein.
Vein specialists usually require patients to wear compression stockings for at least one week after endovenous laser treatment to aid in the healing process. As a follow up, your specialist will use ultrasound to view the treated vein and ensure that it has closed. If the vein has not closed sufficiently, you may need a second treatment.
Click here to learn more about treating varicose and spider veins, or to find a vein specialist near you!