What Happens After You Treat Spider Veins with Lasers?
Laser treatments use thermal energy via light to close off faulty veins. Surface laser treatments, like PDL and IPL, heat the blood in the vein, which seals the vein shut. Endovenous laser treatments, like EVLA, heat the vein’s walls, which causes the vein to close. Once the vein is treated, blood can no longer enter it, and it gradually fades from sight.
The surrounding tissue absorbs the shrunken vein, and blood is redirected into other veins to return to the heart.
The time it takes for the vein to completely vanish depends on the vein and the procedure. For most patients, the vein disappears within two to six weeks. But some patients will need more than one treatment, and their results could take up to 12 weeks. Book an appointment with a California vein specialist to learn more about laser treatment options.
Do Different Laser Treatments Have Different Recoveries?
There are several ways to treat spider veins with lasers. Pulsed dye laser treatment (PDL) uses a dye solution that creates a wavelength of laser light. The light is aimed at the vein through the surface of the skin. This heats the blood inside the vein and causes it to coagulate, sealing the vein shut.
Intensive Pulsed Laser treatments (IPL) are also used at the skin’s surface, but they use multiple wavelengths, instead of just one. So, they can treat several issues at once. PDLs and IPLs can cause redness and irritation. In some cases, they cause blistering or scabbing, and in rare cases, they cause permanent discoloration. Recovery is generally quick, but patients need to let their skin heal for a week and avoid the sun while they are healing.
Endovenous laser ablation threads a laser fiber through a tiny catheter inserted in the skin. The laser fiber is placed on the vein’s walls, where it is activated and heats the vein to close it. Endovenous lasers can treat larger and deeper veins, since they’re inserted through the skin, unlike PDLs and IPLs. Since endovenous treatments aren’t applied to the skin, there’s no blistering or scabbing. Patients don’t need stitches or bandages because the incision point is very small. They can walk immediately after the procedure and go back to work if they choose to.
Endovenous procedures are typically used for varicose veins and large spider veins, not facial spider veins. They also treat a common cause of vein damage, which is Chronic Venous Insufficiency. IPLs and PDLs are often used on the face or on skin conditions besides spider veins, like port wine stains and hemangiomas. Recovery depends on the procedure that was used and the extent of the damage. But all laser procedures are either minimally invasive or non-invasive, so patients can resume their usual routines without taking time off work.
What Is Recovery Like with Endovenous Laser Treatment?
Endovenous laser ablation does not require much post-procedural care. Patients can move about, exercise moderately, and bathe or shower. They do not need to contend with stitches or wound care. Some patients need to wear compression stockings for a short period of time after EVLA. But this does not mean you can’t be active.
Walking daily is encouraged, and only strenuous activities like weightlifting should be postponed for a week or two. Elevate your legs while resting and don’t sit or stand for too long at a time. Leg muscle contractions help your leg veins pump blood up to the heart. Remaining active, elevating your legs, and wearing compression stockings (if advised) will expedite your recovery.
What’s the Recovery Time for PDLs and IPLs?
Since PDLs and IPLs are applied to the skin, patients need to let their skin heal for at least a week. This means they should avoid direct sun exposure, wear sunscreen, and follow their doctor’s instructions for cosmetics and facial cleansers. Unlike EVLA, IPL and PDL might require you to avoid exercise for a brief period of time, because exercise could make swelling last longer. Some patients are advised to use ice packs or cool compresses, since certain surface lasers cause the sensation of sunburn.
What Side Effects Are Possible in the Treated Area?
With surface vein lasers, the main side effects are redness, burning sensations, blistering, scabbing, swelling, bruising, and hyperpigmentation or melasma. These side effects are typically brief and mild. Ask your doctor about any symptoms that concern you, and seek medical care for a fever or other signs of an infection.
With endovenous lasers, the primary side effects are bruising, swelling, hypopigmentation, scarring, and a hard lump where the vein was treated. These too are typically mild and brief, and many patients don’t develop any of them. If you develop a fever, or a warm, red lump, seek medical care to rule out an infection or a blood clot.
Which California Vein Specialist Is Best for Laser Treatment?
The answer to what happens after laser spider vein treatment depends largely on where you seek treatment. Some vein centers only offer surface laser treatments, which aren’t advised for varicose veins, deep or large spider veins, or Chronic Venous Insufficiency. So, patients who need an endovenous laser and receive a surface laser won’t get the results they want. It’s important to choose a board certified vein doctor with ultrasound training, so they can identify the cause.
If your spider vein or varicose vein stems from vein disease, that must be treated too, to achieve lasting results. Visit our award-winning vein doctors in California to receive the comprehensive vein care you need. No one laser is right for every vein. In fact, many patients aren’t advised to use laser treatment at all. Sclerotherapy, radiofrequency ablation, and vein adhesives are all popular alternatives to laser treatment. Our San Diego and San Jose vein centers offer a wide array of gentle, effective vein procedures.