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Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins

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| February 5, 2013 by Don Mehrabi MD FAAD

Varicose veins occur when the valves that prevent blood from flowing backwards from the heart stop functioning correctly. This results in twisted and swollen veins that may occasionally become painful. The condition is usually harmless and doesn’t require treatment unless the vein is causing pain or embarrassment. A dermatologist may also treat a varicose vein if it’s causing additional symptoms such as swelling in the surrounding area (venous stasis).

Self-management techniques such as exercise and leg elevation can often reduce symptoms. When self-management is unsuccessful, compression stockings, surgery and sclerotherapy may be helpful. Laser therapy is an effective alternative to invasive surgery.

What Types of Laser Treatment Are Available For Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?

1. Endovenous laser treatment can be used for large varicose veins. A catheter is inserted into the vein and a small laser fiber is guided into the affected area. The laser fiber then fires short but powerful beams of light that heat up the surrounding tissue and close the vein. The laser is gradually moved along the vein until the problematic vein is entirely closed.

2. Simple laser treatment is only effective for small spider veins. After simple laser treatment, the patient can usually return to their daily routine immediately. Simple laser treatment is sometimes used to treat remaining small veins after the primary vein has been closed through surgery.

What Are The Advantages Of Laser Treatment?

Endovenous laser treatment (EVLT) can be highly effective, but sometimes requires multiple sessions in order to fully close a vein. EVLT is optimally used for larger varicose veins and is an excellent alternative to venous stripping or other vascular surgery. EVLT can have up to a 94% success rate. However, EVLT is highly operator dependent and depends on the training and skill of the dermatologist performing the procedure.

Superficial vascular lasers are sometimes effective in treating spider veins, but still lag behind in efficacy to sclerotherapy. It is a useful adjunct to sclerotherapy for matted telangiectasias on the lower legs. Side effects of spider vein laser treatment include small burns and skin discoloration. The advantage of laser treatment is that it does not require anesthetic, it’s less painful than alternative therapies and has a shorter recovery time.

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About the Author:

Don Mehrabi MD is a Board Certified Los Angeles Dermatologist with offices in Beverly Hills, Encino-Tarzana, and Glendale. Voted Best Dermatologist in Glendale for the last 2 years, Dr. Mehrabi specializes in personal dermatologic care for all medical and cosmetic dermatology including Botox, Restylane, Juvederm, Sclerotherapy, Laser, Mole Removal, Acne, and Skin Cancer.

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