Leg vein removal procedures can help get rid of visible blood vessels. There are two main types:
1. Varicose veins
Varicose veins are usually from 1-3mm in diameter. They are bluish in color and bulge from the surface of the skin. Varicose veins are caused by defected valves that cause blood to pool in the lower extremities.
2. Spider veins
Spider veins (also known as telangiactasis) are smaller than varicose veins. They are often less than 1mm in diameter and flat (instead of bulged). Spider veins are caused by issues such as: obesity, sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time, birth control, sun exposure and hormonal changes. They can develop on the legs as well as the face.
The causes of visible leg veins are largely due to having a genetic predisposition. However, environmental factors may also come into play. Examples include:
Unwanted leg veins can be removed through sclerotherapy. This involves the use of injections. The injection solution will damage the inner lining of the blood vessels causing them to seal shut. The body will treat this as useless tissue, breaking it down further so that it is eventually eliminated as waste.
Sclerotherapy has been performed with sodium tetradecyl sulfate. However, the FDA approved a newer drug called Asclera (Polidocanol) in 2010. Unlike saline, Asclera does not sting. According to FDA studies, it also performs better. Asclera is also more capable of getting rid of smaller spider veins.
The advantages of using laser for getting rid of unwanted blood vessels on the legs includes the following:
Lasers work with a single wavelength which is selected to perform a very specific function. They are able to make very precise tissue changes due to the use of a chosen target within the body known as a chromophore which absorbs the energy of the wavelength and directs it to the exact location needed to be treated.
In the case of leg vein removal, oxygenated hemoglobin within the blood vessels serves as the chromophore to pull the laser energy into the unwanted blood vessels. From this point, the wavelength works to inflict damage to the inner lining of these structures, known as the endothelium. This seals off the tissue so that it becomes unusable and subject to degradation by the body’s natural clearing processes.
In 2002, Dr. Umar conducted a research study published in Dermatologic Surgery comparing the effects of different laser systems on leg veins. These included:
1) 755nm Alexandrite
2) 810 Diode
3) 1064nm Nd:YAG (long pulse)
According to the results, the Nd: YAG outperformed the other two (Blackwell Synergy Dermatol Surgery, Volume 28, Issue 3, page 224-230, March 2002, article abstract) This is mainly due to its ability to be absorbed quite readily by hemoglobin. Due to the longer wavelength used, it is also able to address veins that are deeper beneath the skin. The long pulse mode serves to maximize the amount of energy which can safely be delivered to assist in the clearing of unwanted leg veins.
The Office of Dr. U offers treatments for leg veins with the Gentle YAG 1064nm laser by Candela. Not only is it very effective for the removal of leg veins of 3mm (or smaller), it is also safe for all skin types since it is fairly resistant to being absorbed by surrounding areas of melanin.
Another system used by Dr. U’s office is the Vbeam laser which uses wavelengths between 585-595nm. Because it employs a shorter wavelength, it is best for treating tiny blood vessels much closer to the skin’s surface. This property is not only useful for removing small visible leg veins, but also other conditions where skin redness is a concern, such as: acne, Rosacea and vascular birthmarks.
In cases where there are bright, slender veins up to about 0.5mm, Dr. U may choose to use the KTP-532nm laser.
A doctor would need to evaluate each patient on a case by case basis. But generally speaking, surgery may be a recommended option for larger leg veins that would not ideally benefit from the use of lasers or sclerotherapy. Also, there are certain types of these veins where are fed by other branches of blood vessels much deeper within the leg. In such cases, surgery would likely be considered.
The removal of unwanted vessels would not be detrimental to the body’s circulation. The blood would flow through alternative networks of blood vessels to reach specific destinations.
For the most part, leg vein removal is intended to achieve cosmetic results. However, there are other extremes where the pooling of blood in the lower extremities of the body can be hazardous to a person’s health. The swelling may cause tissue to break, leading to ulcers. Or blood clots may form within the vessels. In these types of cases, leg vein removal becomes a rather necessary medical treatment.
This patient at the Office of Dr. U wanted to get rid of veins, as shown in the images. Due to the fact that these blood vessels were within the 3mm diameter range, she was able to qualify as a candidate for laser treatment. Excellent results were achieved with the Gentle YAG (1064nm) laser.
The procedure was able to destroy the unwanted veins below the skin’s surface without the need for invasive surgical instruments. Here are before and after pictures.
Fine Touch Dermatology offers leg vein removal procedures for individuals who want to get rid of blood vessels that are visible on the skin. Complimentary consultations are available to patients who want to discuss treatment options. We use either sclerotherapy or lasers. In some cases we can combine these treatments depending on your presentation to eliminate the problem. Fill out our online consultation form at the top of the page. Or call our office directly at 877-337-6424.