Do you have unsightly red and purple veins on your thighs, legs or ankles? Millions of women are bothered by these veins. In fact, up to one half of the adult female population may be affected with this common cosmetic concern. Many dermatologists are now treating spider veins with sclerotherapy using a sclerosing solution. When the solution is injected into the veins, it causes them to collapse and face from view. Additionally, symptoms such as burning, tenderness, night cramps, swelling and achy legs may be remedied by this treatment.
Small leg veins come in three basic sizes. Telangectasias are small, red veins that appear very near the skin surface. They may radiate out from a central point, be shaped like a tree or be in separate lines. Venulectasias are somewhat larger and appear as slightly deeper veins that are purple in color. Finally, Varicose Veins are the larger, more convoluted veins that can appear anywhere on the legs or ankles. Varicose veins are usually more than a quarter inch in diameter and may bulge above the skin surface. These veins tend to be more painful and may be associated with more serious underlying vein disease. Sometimes sclerotherapy can be used to treat these veins, but often more invasive procedures using hooks to remove veins or devices that thread inside the veins and close them from the inside. Often, if you have these larger veins, an ultrasound may be ordered to better understand where the problem lies.
People of any age may be candidates for sclerotherapy. Most are women between the ages of 30 and 60. In some people, spider veins may become noticable in the early teen years, others may not see them until their 40's. Often, a close relative is affected as well and that history can be a good predictor of whether or not you may get spider veins yourself. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may be advised to postpone sclerotherapy until after delivery or after you have stopped breastfeeding. Often, the red spots and veins that surface during pregnancy will fade once the baby is born. While many men do not consider spider veins to be a cosmetic concern, sclerotherapy can be just as effective as it is in women.
While the treatment of leg veins with sclerotherapy can be a highly effective treatment with satisfying results, it is often unrealistic to expect complete clearance with one session. On average, between 2 and 6 sessions are needed. It is also unrealistic to expect the veins never to return. Sclerotherapy only treats the veins that are visble and does nothing to alter the underlying venous system to prevent recurrence. With time, additional veins commonly appear and may require treatment. Excercise and the use of quality support wear can reduce the onset of new veins.
Serious medical complications from sclerotherapy are extremely rare when the procedure is performed by a qualified practitioner. However, they may occur. Risks include the formation of blood clots in the veins, severe inflammation, darkening of areas, adverse allergic reactions to the sclerosing solution and skin injury that could leave a small but permanent scar. There are also certain people who should not undergo sclerotherapy: pregnant women, people over 60, obese people, people with multiple large and/or painful varicose veins, people with a history of a deep venous thrombosis/pulmonary embolus/clotting disorder, people with heart or liver disease, HIV, recent cancer or chemotherapy.
A common cosmetic complication is pigmentation irregularity - brownish splotches on the affected skin that may take months to fade, sometimes up to a year. Another problem that can occur is "telangiectatic matting," in which fine reddish blood vessels appear around the treated area, requiring further injections.
You can reduce the risks associated with treatment by choosing a doctor who has adequate training in sclerotherapy and is well versed in the different types of sclerosing agents available. A qualified doctor can help you select which type of sclerosing medication is most appropriate for your needs.
The Candela GYAG laser specifically targets the blood vessel with wavelengths of light. The light closes off the vessel, then the body takes away the remainder of the vessel.
Usually, a series of 2-4 treatments are required at 4-6 week intervals for maximum clearance. Treatments are easy and comfortable. No specific preparation is required. GYAG treatments can be used on all skin types from the darkest to the lightest. During treatment, the laser pulses feel like a bit of heat followed by a cold spray.
Immediately after treatment, the areas will look pink and generally follow the pattern of the vessels removed. This will fade in 1-2 days as your body takes over to complete the process. Generally, you may return to normal activities such as walking and exercising in 1-2 days. You may return to work or other activities immediately although you will be asked to wear support hose after your treatment. Treatment of larger vessels get enhanced results with their extended use. Support hose will be prescribed to you at your consultation or you may pick them up after treatment. Protecting the treated skin from the sun during the first 1-2 weeks will reduce the chance of any dark spots forming.
Most leg veins treated with the laser clear immediately. Some larger vessels may take on a gray color before fading naturally away. You can expect the vessels treated at the prior visit to be mostly or all the way gone by the time you return for your next session. Some vessels are resistant and need additional treatment. When combined with sclerotherapy, laser leg vein reduction completes the pathway to smooth vessel-free legs.
Candela lasers use a patented Dynamic Cooling Device (DCD) that uses a sophisticated computer to deliver a cooling spray to the skin with each pulse. This system makes the laser treatments very safe, especially with respect to competing systems that do not have it.
The GYAG is a solid performer and produces impressive results. Considered the industry standard by which others are compared. The Candela laser series was first runner-up after Palomar of the 2007 Professional’s Choice Awards.