None of us like to see spider veins and leg veins on our calves, thighs and ankles. They make our legs look old. Spider veins and leg veins are particularly embarrassing when we wear a bathing suit at the beach. Older methods for removing spider veins and leg veins required painful injections and caused bruising. However, new 1064 laser methods are much less painful, effective, and do not cause bruising or down time. These new methods are quick and simple, but they must be done while you do not have a tan. It is best to have these treatments now, during the spring, before the beach and tanning season starts.
How to Remove Spider Veins and Leg Veins
All non-surgical therapies to remove leg veins work by injuring the inside of the vessel wall. The injury causes the blood vessel to close and disappear. Older injection techniques such as sclerotherapy injected a strong irritant into the vessel to cause the vessel to close down. Newer laser light based methods use a properly selected light wavelength which is absorbed by the blood inside the vessel, causes the blood to boil, which injures the vessel wall and causes the vessel to close.
The best laser wavelength for vessel removal is the 1064nm laser. The best IPL wavelength for small blood vessels is the IPL green in the 650nm range. Unlike earlier laser treatments with the Pulsed Dye laser, the newer 1064nm treatments do not burst the vessel, but work gradually, thus there is less risk of bruising. The newer 1064nm lasers have excellent cooling tips to prevent skin injury during treatment.
What Are Laser Treatments Like?
Most treatments take about half an hour. A soothing cool gel is placed on the skin to be treated. This gel is not only for your comfort, but also to improve effectiveness of the treatment and help avoid skin injury. The small special cooling tip of the hand piece is pressed over the area to be treated and the light is flashed repeatedly along the course of the vessel to be removed.
You and the person treating you will be wearing special protective eyeglasses or goggles to protect the eyes during treatment.
Does Removal Hurt?
The new improved cooling tip makes these treatments much more comfortable than earlier methods. All patients are able to undergo this treatment without anesthesia or pain killers. I compare the sensation to a brief snap of a rubber band. Most patients find the noise of the machine to be more startling than the sensation on the skin.
What Will My Skin Look Like After Treatment?
The skin overlying the treated blood vessel will appear pink right after treatment. The pink or red color lasts a few hours to a day.
The major advantage of the 1064nm is that it does not rupture the vessel as did older pulsed dye machines. This is a major benefit which reduces down time. The older pulsed dye caused bruising that could take weeks to go away.
When Do I See A Result?
The new methods cause a gradual shrinkage and closure of the vessel. This generally takes about 5 weeks. Some vessels disappear immediately during treatment, but larger vessels will close gradually after a few weeks. You will see the vessels getting smaller as the days go by.
How many Treatments Will I Need?
It is impossible to close all vessels during the first treatment. Usually 3 treatments scheduled 5 weeks apart are required. The third treatment is a cleanup treatment to remove small vessels left behind.
Will I have Downtime after Treatment?
You will not have down time due to pain, bruising or other visible marks. However I do recommend that you wear compression stockings for a period after treatment. The compression stockings prevent blood from flowing back into the vessel as the vessel is closing down.
I also recommend that you avoid heavy lifting and weight lifting and running for about 10 days to two weeks after treatment.
What Is The Best Machine?
The 1064nm is the preferred and most widely used for blood vessel removal. I have used several different brands and am happiest with the Palomar Lux1064+. The characteristic of this machines pulse width and cooling tip have produced better vessel removal results and less discomfort in my patients, than others I have used.
Where Should I Have My Treatment?
This is a controversial question. Many Spas and medical Spas offer treatments in their facility when no supervising doctor is present. These machines are very effective but potentially dangerous medical devices that must be used by properly trained and supervised personnel. In my office, a nurse or medical aesthetician that I have trained and directly supervise does these treatments.
My own opinion is that lasers should only be used in a licensed medical office under the supervision of a physician who is present in the facility. The presence of an experienced board certified plastic surgeon or dermatologist is an important safety feature for you the patient.