Laser treatment is the procedure of choice for the elimination of spider veins, also called telangiectasias.
Spider veins are thin blue, red, or purple veins that often congregate on the thighs, ankles, and calves.
Spider veins are usually treated in one of two ways: sclerotherapy or laser treatment. Larger, usually purple, blood vessels usually respond better to sclerotherapy.
|A Closer Look|| |
|A powerful light passes through the skin and is selectively absorbed by the blood within the spider veins. This damages the vessel with heat causing it to collapse or burst, depending on the specific laser used.|
Image and information courtesy of Amerivein.com
Laser (an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) is an intense light beam of a specific wavelength. Different types of laser beams emit light of different wavelengths, each of which is absorbed by a different substance in the skin. Heat from the absorbed light can coagulate proteins, break down pigment particles, and boil water in body cells. When carefully controlled, lasers can be used to seal off blood vessels and vaporize tissues in thin layers. Many lasers emit light in pulses as brief as a fraction of a second, which allows the intense heat to dissipate before it is conducted to surrounding tissue, minimizing damage to healthy skin.
Surgeons can use several types of lasers to treat spider veins, but all produce laser light that is absorbed by hemoglobin in blood cells. The resulting heat coagulates the blood, damaging the blood vessel wall and sealing the vessels, which subsequently disintegrate and are absorbed by the body.
The laser’s pulse feels like the snap of a rubber band; anesthesia is usually not necessary when the treatment area is small. The treated area turns purple after the procedure and will remain that way for 10 to 14 days. It then changes to pink or brown before returning to normal within a few weeks. Discoloration of the skin is common and can persist for as long as a year.
Last updated: 27-Jun-02