The following information is based on that provided by the British Association of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons. I hope you find it helpful.
Are all thread veins suitable for Laser therapy?
Not all thread veins respond to Laser therapy, especially if they are situated too deeply within the skin for the Laser light to penetrate. In such cases, Sclerotherapy may be effective.
How does Laser therapy work?
Lasers produce light of a very pure wavelength. If the wavelength of the Laser is matched to a target colour (such as the red of blood or the vessel wall), the energy of the Laser is absorbed specifically by the target but not by the surrounding tissues. Thus, the Laser delivers a series of focused energy pulses generating heat for very short periods of time. This breaks down the thread veins into tiny particles. These tiny particles are then dispersed naturally in the body and the veins fade over several weeks.
What is Laser treatment like?
The laser is fired in short bursts at the thread veins. This feels warm on the skin, like a pinch similar to a snapped rubber band. During treatment the skin is cooled which reduces this sensation. Local anaesthetic gel can be used if necessary. The entire procedure is brief and non-invasive.
When laser treatment is carried out it is essential that all those within the treatment room, you and the staff, should wear protective goggles or glasses. Entry to the room is strictly controlled whilst treatment is being given.
What preparations must I make?
Do not make changes to your normal activities, before or after treatment. Prior to and following any laser treatment, you must limit your exposure to the sun. Treatment is not recommended in patients who are tanned.
First treatment: the Test Patch
Laser light can damage the skins pigment and sometimes the treatment area may become unusually pale or dark several months after treatment. For this reason, it is wise to carry out a small trial of treatment in an unobtrusive area before proceeding to extensive treatment. The test patch is examined six to eight weeks later for unwanted side effects and to carefully assess success before proceeding to further treatment. Special care is needed when treating patients with brown skin.
After the treatment?
After a treatment the treated veins appear red, bruised, raised and often more prominent than before the treatment and the surface of the skin may feel dry. Crusting may develop on the area that has been treated. Occasionally there is a slight increase in pigment at the treated site. This usually subsides after seven to fourteen days.
After treatment stay out of the sun as exposure of recently laser treated skin to strong sunshine may increase the risk of pigmentation problems.
How many treatments will I need and how often?
The number of treatments needed will depend on the extent of the affected area and will be estimated at the consultation. Treatments are usually planned at four to six week intervals.
Complications of Laser therapy
In general Laser therapy is safe and effective, however complications do sometimes occur and these include: blistering, scarring, ulceration, loss of skin pigment and increased pigmentation, which may be permanent. The area around the ankle is more likely to have complications than other areas. It is important that you give details of any medication you are taking, and any medical problems you have, which may be relevant to the treatment.
The risk is greatest is patients known to produce keloids, who have been treated with radiotherapy in the area or have had a recent course of Roaccutane. Cold sores (herpes) can be reactivated. Patients with this tendency can be given preventative treatment.