What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are enlarged, twisted veins. This happens when the valves in the veins do not work as well as they should, causing poor blood flow and blood pooling. They can occur in any vein but are most commonly found in the lower legs due to increased pressures from walking and standing.

Varicose veins are often of cosmetic concern because they bulge out form the skin and have a very distinctive blue-purple color. Additionally, they can cause pain, itching, or ulcerations in the legs. The older one gets, elasticity in the veins is lost and they stretch more easily, making them more common with age. The common age group is after 50 years old, however, it is also very common in pregnant women because of the increased pressure from the pregnant belly.

Spider veins occur the same way as varicose veins but are much smaller and look like small spiders. They are typically found more on the upper thighs.

Treatment option: Cutera Laser ExcelV

We offer Cutera Laser Excel V as one of our treatment options for treating varicose veins. The Excel V is a solid-state laser system that uses dual wavelengths (532/1064nm) to produce faster and more efficient clearing of targeted lesions. The green laser heats the vessel until they are removed. Unlike other treatment options, laser therapy does not require anaesthetic administration. This is easily done in your dermatologist’s office.

The number of visits and duration of each visit is dependent on the number of lesions being treated and the area which is being treated. Some people see improvement in spider veins even after the first session! Consult your dermatologist to determine how long your procedure will take depending on what you would like to achieve. This procedure is done in the dermatologist’s office, and you are free to go about your day as soon as your session is done.

The most common side effects are slight reddening and swelling of the area which was lasered. Pain is usually minimal, and some patients experience bruising.

Treatment option: Catheter Vein Ablations

Another treatment option for varicose is catheter vein ablation. This method is available for varicose veins that did not respond or only partially responded to laser therapy. It is also recommended for larger or more advanced varicose disease. This procedure also uses a laser which is introduced into the varicose vein via a catheter that is inserted intravenously. Using ultrasound guidance, the laser is guided to the area that needs treatment. Once there, an anesthetic is injected locally in order to collapse the vein around the laser and to minimize the pain from the heat of the laser energy.

The procedure takes approximately 45-60 minutes depending on the size of the varicose veins being treated. If you require multiple varicose veins treated in both legs, you may require a number of treatments on separate days during a period of approximately 4-6 weeks. This procedure is done as an outpatient procedure meaning that it does not require a hospital stay. If you do require an overnight stay at the hospital, your doctor will let you know.

Side effects include skin burns, pain, redness, swelling and bruising around the area that was ablated.

Treatment Option: Ultrasound Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy remains the gold standard for the treatment of large or advanced varicose vein disease. Sclerotherapy is often performed alongside other treatment options in order to produce the best results. This a non-surgical and minimally invasive procedure uses ultrasound guidance to locate the varicose veins to inject a foam sclerosant. This sclerosant irritated the vein, eventually causing it to collapse the varicose veins, causing them to initially shrink and then disappear altogether.

Usually a sclerotherapy session lasts 15 to 45 minutes, depending on how many injections are administered per session. Follow up or repeat sessions are not necessary, unless more injections need to be done on the other leg. The recovery time is usually immediate.

The side effects for sclerotherapy are usually quite minimal. Commonly, one experiences bruising at the injection site, stinging pain, swelling or skin discoloration, but these do not lost very long.