Laser Vein Therapy Overview
Advancements in the field of laser technology have led to a number of innovative uses in medical science. Today, lasers are used by cosmetic surgeons for an increasing number of procedures, including Laser Spider Vein Therapy, Laser Hair Removal, Laser Skin Resurfacing, LASIK eye surgery and dental whitening. The use of state-of-the-art lasers allows many cosmetic procedures to be performed faster and more precisely with less discomfort and downtime for the patient.
Laser vein therapy is a cosmetic, minimally-invasive procedure that is proven to remove spider veins from the face, legs, thighs and other problem areas. No anesthesia is required and the procedure is usually performed in your doctor's office or other outpatient setting. Laser spider vein removal can take from 15 minutes to 1 hour, depending on the number and location of the veins to be treated. In addition to spider veins, lasers can also be an effective treatment for vascular lesions such as port wine stains and blood blisters.
Removing unsightly spider veins can dramatically improve the appearance of your skin and provide a boost to your self-esteem. The skin on your legs or other area of the body will appear more youthful, healthy and evenly-colored. You will probably feel much more comfortable wearing clothing that exposes the legs, such as shorts and swimwear.
The best candidates for laser spider vein therapy are in good health and want to enhance their appearance by removing unsightly spider veins from their face or body.
Generally, the best candidates for laser vein therapy:
- Are in good physical and psychological health.
- Are well-informed about treatment options and have realistic expectations.
- Want to improve their appearance by eliminating unwanted spider veins or vascular lesions from the face, legs, thighs and other body areas with permanent results.
- Would benefit psychologically and emotionally from skin that is younger-looking and colored more evenly.
Women who are pregnant, have recently been pregnant or are breastfeeding may be advised to postpone laser vein therapy. Spider veins that develop during pregnancy usually go away on their own within 3 months after delivery.
If you believe that you may be a good candidate for laser vein therapy, a qualified plastic surgeon can evaluate your circumstances, explain anything about the procedure you don't understand, answer all of your questions and help you decide if the procedure is right for you.
Laser Vein Therapy Risks
Complications are rare when laser vein therapy is performed by a qualified plastic surgeon. To reduce your risk, carefully follow all of your surgeon's instructions, both before and after the procedure. Contact your surgeon's office immediately if you have any symptoms you believe may indicate a complication.
The most common risks associated with laser spider vein therapy include:
- Changes in skin tone
- Blistering (rare)
There is a small risk of the treated skin becoming lighter or darker after the procedure due to a decrease or increase in pigment. Any changes in skin pigmentation usually resolve within several months but can be permanent in isolated cases. Any localized blistering can be treated with an antibiotic ointment until healing.
Laser Vein Therapy Costs
The national average surgeon/physician fee for laser vein therapy in 2020 was $312, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. This figure does not include other costs, such as a facilities charge. You should be provided with complete information on costs and financing options at the initial consultation with your doctor.
The total fee for laser spider vein removal can vary depending on the region of the country, the extent of the procedure and your specific needs as a patient. As it is considered to be a cosmetic procedure, the cost of laser vein therapy is usually not covered by health insurance.
Laser Vein Therapy Consultation
Prior to your laser vein therapy treatments, you will have a consultation to evaluate the condition of your skin and discuss your options in detail. Depending on the specifics of your situation, the physician may recommend laser vein therapy, another treatment option such as Sclerotherapy, or a combination of both. Laser vein removal is the most effective method for treating smaller spider veins, such as those that appear on the face. Larger spider veins are usually treated with Sclerotherapy.
The consultation will begin with a physical examination, during which the doctor will note various characteristics such as the location and size of the spider veins. You will also be examined for swelling, changes in the skin or any other signs that could indicate more serious problems within the circulatory system. Be sure to tell the doctor about any symptoms you are experiencing, such as aches, pain, itching or swelling. The doctor will take a complete medical history, including past surgeries, existing conditions and medications that you currently take. Photos of the problem area may be taken for before-and-after purposes.
Ask the doctor about anything you don't understand about laser spider vein removal. He or she should give you all the details of the procedure, including the benefits, risks, costs, recovery time and number of treatments to be expected. Be sure to ask to see before and after photos of the surgeon's recent laser vein therapy patients.
As the consultation concludes, you may wish to schedule your procedure, take some time to think, seek a second opinion or schedule a consultation with a vein specialist if underlying problems are found. If you decide to proceed with the procedure, your plastic surgeon will provide you with specific instructions on how to prepare for laser spider vein therapy.
How Laser Vein Therapy is Performed
To begin the procedure, the skin is cleaned and goggles are used to protect your eyes from accidental exposure to the laser beam. The laser is then used to direct pulses of laser light along the length of each spider vein. This process generates heat that is absorbed by the blood vessel, coagulating the blood within the spider vein and causing it to shrink and be absorbed by the body. Patients may feel a slight burning or stinging sensation during the procedure similar to a rubber band snapping against the skin. After treatment, an antibiotic ointment may be applied to the skin.
Though many patients find that one treatment is enough to meet their appearance goals, some patients require multiple treatments to achieve the most beneficial results with laser spider vein therapy. Depending on the number of veins treated, as well as their color and size, up to four treatments may be recommended, with several weeks between each session. Thereafter, additional treatment sessions may be needed if new spider veins occur in the future.
Laser Vein Therapy Recovery
After a laser spider vein therapy session, patients may experience slight redness, swelling and bruising of the treated skin. Redness and swelling should disappear within a day or so and bruising normally goes away within a week. Cold packs are usually recommended to reduce swelling.
Spider veins that are treated with the laser will become darker and more visible right after the procedure before gradually fading from view within 2 to 6 weeks. Make-up can be applied immediately to camouflage any noticeable signs of treatment. If laser spider vein removal is performed on the legs, you may be instructed to wear compression stockings for a week or two to keep the treated veins closed.
Patients are usually advised to avoid vigorous exercise for the first 24 hours after laser vein therapy. Otherwise, patients can usually resume their normal activities immediately and return to work with no downtime.