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The Medical Spa of Baton Rouge Blog

How Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins Works

Posted by Dr. Tasha Shamlin on 04/20/15

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Laser treatment is one of the most effective approaches to reducing the appearance of bulging red, blue or purple varicose veins. Laser treatment uses the power of intense light and heat to incapacitate varicose veins. The body responds by redirecting blood through healthier veins to give skin a fresh, smooth appearance, free from unappealing varicose veins. 

To understand how laser treatment works, it is helpful to know how varicose veins develop. Blood flows through arteries from the heart to the far reaches of the body; the force of gravity helps pull oxygen-rich blood down from the heart to the feet. Body cells use the oxygen as fuel, creating toxins in the process. 

Blood flows upwards through veins, against the force of gravity, from the feet back to the heart. This blood carries toxins away to the lungs, kidneys, and other organs for processing and disposal. The body overcomes the downward pull of gravity with a series of valves located in strategic locations in strong, resilient veins. These valves trap blood within small vein segments in between heartbeats to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. 

Varicose veins occur when these valves fail and allow blood to flow backwards and accumulate in the lower legs. Left unchecked, blood overfills and damages the vein, resulting in the twisted and bloated appearance of a varicose vein. 

Varicose veins are unsightly and they may be unhealthy. Varicose veins are diseased, which means they do not function well. Blood pooling in a lower extremity prevents arteries from delivering oxygen-rich blood to the tissues in the lower legs and feet, so the cells in these tissue become deprived of the oxygen they need. Furthermore, varicose veins do not carry away toxins, so these oxygen-starved cells also suffer from toxicity. 

Laser treatment for varicose veins resolves the cosmetic problems associated with these diseased veins, and laser treatments helps improve blood flow up and out of the lower extremities. 

About Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins

A laser is a highly focused beam of light. Bursts of intense laser light heats up and damages tissue. Scar tissue then forms at the site of tissue damage. 

Vascular surgeons aim lasers at varicose veins. Heat from the laser damages the diseased veins and causes the formation of scar tissue, which closes off the vein and prevents blood from flowing through it. The body simply reroutes blood flow to nearby healthy veins. 

After laser treatment, the old varicose vein tissue dissolves. The body slowly absorbs destroyed vein tissue to leave behind smooth-appearing skin.

What to Expect

Laser treatments are most effective for varicose veins measuring less than 3 mm, according to the Office on Women’s Health, but this approach may not be suitable for all skin types and colors. Multiple treatments may be necessary to remove varicose veins from the legs. 

The doctor will numb the area where he plans to insert a catheter, which is a long, flexible tube. The surgeon will also numb the length of the affected vein. While the injections may be uncomfortable, laser treatments do not cause pain. 

Before and during the procedure, the physician will use ultrasound images to examine the affected vein. The surgeon inserts a laser fiber into the catheter and use ultrasound to ensure proper placement of the laser. The clinician then turns pulls the laser out slowly, using the laser light to heat up and damage the diseased vein from the inside. 

The entire procedure generally takes less than one hour. The incision is small, so patients do not need stitches. 

Laser treatments effectively treat existing varicose veins but this therapy does not prevent new varicose veins from developing. For most people, though, laser treatments effectively reduce the embarrassment and discomfort associated with varicose veins.

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Topics: Varicose Veins