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By Deepa C. Lingam, MD
Many adults are self-conscious of visible veins that often appear on their legs as they age. These enlarged veins are typically spider or varicose veins. Both conditions are a result of weakened or damaged valves in the veins.
Below we will review why veins become visible, how spider and varicose veins differ, and how they can be treated with a laser.
Why do leg veins become visible?
As mentioned above, spider and varicose veins are a result of damaged valves in the veins. When tiny, one-way valves inside the veins weaken, some blood begins to flow backward. As a result, extra blood begins to pool, which puts pressure on the walls of the vein. This continual pressure can cause vein walls to weaken and bulge causing spider or varicose veins to appear.
Spider and varicose veins appear more in women than men and are more common with age and during pregnancy. If you have blood relatives with spider or varicose veins or sit/stand for long periods of time, you have a higher risk of developing visible veins. They can also be caused by sunlight, hormonal changes, or an injury.
Spider veins vs. varicose veins
Spider veins are clusters of small blood vessels that develop near the surface of the skin. They may be flat or slightly raised and are often blue, red or purple. As the name implies, they often resemble a spider web. While spider veins can cause some discomfort, they are usually painless.
Varicose veins are larger and deeper than spider veins. They are typically blue, purple or skin-colored and often appear lumpy and twisted. Unlike spider veins, varicose veins can cause problems beyond an undesirable appearance. These symptoms may include pain, itching, bleeding, swelling, or an achy feeling in the legs. Varicose veins can also increase a person’s risk of blood clots and circulation problems.
Laser treatments for spider veins and varicose veins
Fortunately, these pesky veins are treatable. At the Center for Surgical Dermatology, we recommend laser treatment. Lasers are an effective method for treating blood vessels in the legs that are less than 1-2 millimeters in diameter.
While sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for leg veins, laser treatment is less invasive and an excellent option for patients who have failed sclerotherapy or for patients who are fearful of treatment with needles. Plus, lasers can be used in combination with other treatments.
For the laser treatment to be effective, the veins need to be more superficial. There may be instances where a specific laser treatment is ineffective due to an issue with deeper reticular and/or varicose veins. In these instances, evaluation by a vascular surgeon may be necessary to discuss alternative treatment options.
During the treatment, lasers with a longer wavelength and pulse duration are used to enable the appropriate penetration to the depth of these superficial vessels. This process minimizes damage to the overlying skin and surrounding tissue. Simply put, the laser causes the vein to clot and dry up.
Following a laser treatment, patients may experience post-laser hyperpigmentation. Plus, if excessive heat is delivered to the skin, patients can develop ulceration. Discomfort and pain can also be associated with these laser treatments.
Are you ready to get rid of those pesky leg veins? With the laser technology available today, we can form a treatment plan just for you.
Contact Center of Surgical Dermatology for Laser Treatments in Westerville, OH
The Center of Surgical Dermatology is the largest medical and surgical skin treatment and wellness facility in Central Ohio. Since 2007, our board-certified Dermatologists, fellowship-trained Mohs surgeons, and caring professional staff have provided patients with treatment they can trust in an environment second to none. Learn more about our state-of-the-art Dermatology Center before booking your appointment today.