Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins

Laser treatment for varicose veins proves that sometimes, modern medicine gets it right…

Millions of men and women are bothered by the discomfort and embarrassment of spider veins on their legs or faces. NHS Heroes These are small red, blue and sometimes purple blood vessels that appear on the surface of the skin, usually without any symptoms. Occasionally, if the spider veins grow in size or cover a larger surface area they may feel some minor discomfort.

A varicose vein is an entirely different animal.

These are tortuous large veins that have lost the function of the one-way valves that keep the blood from pooling.

Without those valves, the blood pools in the veins and decreases the ability to adequately send oxygen to the tissue and remove waste from a specific area of a leg.

The unsightly and twisted veins are often found on the thighs, backs of the calves, or the inside of the leg. During pregnancy, varicose veins can even form around the vagina and buttocks.

Not so long ago, patients with varicose veins were instructed to sit with their feet raised as much as possible during the day.  Then, manufacturers came up with support hose to help keep the blood from pooling, allowing it to move along the venous system towards the heart.  Next, surgeons began using a veins stripping technique where the vein itself was removed from the body.

Sclerotherapy,  used since the 1930‘s, is still considered one of the less invasive treatments for varicose veins. An injection of a salt solution is given directly into the vein (s). The solution irritates the lining of the blood vessels, which then swell and stick together making the blood clot. Eventually, the blood vessels turn into scar tissue and the varicose fades away.

Laser treatments are used to kill the varicose vein (s). The heat from the laser damages the vein; Scar tissue forms, closes the vein and without  a blood source, the vein dies. Eventually the vein disappears.

Simple laser treatments are used to treat spider veins and small varicose veins, if they’re right under the surface of the skin. They are safe and effective and are scheduled 6 to 12 weeks apart.

Endovenous (inside the vein)  laser treatment is much newer technology, and becoming more available for treating larger varicose veins in the legs.

This procedure involves making a tiny puncture on the skin and passing a laser fiber through a thin tube into the vein. The procedure is less painful and has a shorter recovery time. Usually only very light sedation or a local anesthetic is needed, and the procedure only takes about an hour to complete. Reports of any major complications are very rare.

After the procedure, patients wear compression stockings for at least a week (sometimes longer), but are able to return to their normal routines immediately.

Patients are encouraged to exercise regularly and are highly discouraged or forbidden from bed rest, hot baths, heavy lifting or long travel for about 1 to two weeks.

The most obvious benefit of laser surgery is that it is relatively non-invasive, without the need for a surgical incision. It is more effective than the traditional “vein stripping” and is credited with less pain and fewer complications during recovery. The procedure leaves almost no scars and patients are usually able to return to daily activities immediately.

You should make an appointment with your healthcare provider if you experience any of the following symptoms:

  • A vein has become swollen, red, very tender or warm to the touch
  • There are sores or a rash on your leg or near the ankle
  • The skin on your ankle and calf has become thick and changed color
  • A varicose veins begins to bleed
  • Your leg symptoms are interfering with daily activities
If you’re having pain, even if it’s just a dull ache, get help.

Of course, prevention is easier than having to undergo surgery. So, even if you don’t have varicose veins right now, or aren’t having a problem with the ones you have, there are steps you can take to keep them from getting worse. These will be the topic of the next article.