Varicose veins are quite common, especially in the elderly and in pregnant women. They're caused by poor blood flow within the legs, and they're often more than just a simple cosmetic problem — varicose veins can cause pain and even lead to ulcers forming on your legs. Thankfully, there are several methods available to completely eliminate varicose veins and prevent them from returning. One of these methods is laser varicose vein treatment, in which a dermatologist uses a laser to destroy varicose veins with heat. If you suffer from varicose veins in your legs, read on to find out what causes them and how laser varicose vein procedures can help eliminate them.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins form when blood pools in the vein, causing it to bulge and become visible. The veins in your legs carry blood back to your heart, and the blood circulating through them has to fight against gravity. Your veins contain valves that keep blood flowing upwards towards your heart and prevent it from flowing back down towards your feet.
However, the valves in your veins sometimes don't function correctly. When they fail, they allow blood to flow backward. The excess blood flowing back into veins from above causes them to expand. When this happens to veins that are slightly underneath your skin, the bulging veins are referred to as varicose veins.
How Does Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins Work?
There are two laser varicose vein procedures available. The first procedure is endovenous laser treatment. This is an alternative to varicose vein surgery, in which the veins are completely removed.
In endovenous laser treatment for varicose veins, a catheter is inserted through your skin into your great saphenous vein. The procedure is similar to having an IV placed in your leg. Instead of medication flowing through the IV, however, a wire is fed through the catheter into your vein that emits a laser. The catheter is slowly pulled through your great saphenous vein while the laser is turned on, and the heat from the laser causes your great saphenous vein to break down, form scar tissue and become unable to carry any blood through it. With no blood flow, the great saphenous vein will eventually be eliminated.
The great saphenous vein is chosen because it and its branches are very close to the surface of your skin. Varicose veins in your legs typically arise from these branches. Blocking blood flow through the great saphenous vein will also block blood flow to its branches, which causes them to be eliminated as well. In other words, endovenous laser treatment will stop circulation to your varicose veins, which will eventually eliminate them.
Closing the great saphenous vein isn't dangerous since blood flowing from your feet back to your heart will simply take another path once the great saphenous vein is blocked by endovenous laser treatment. Most of the blood will flow through the femoral vein, which is located deep in your leg rather than slightly underneath the surface of your skin — since it's far removed from your skin, it doesn't contribute to varicose vein development.
How Can Smaller Varicose Veins Be Removed Using Lasers?
The other laser varicose vein procedure is used to eliminate smaller varicose veins that may still remain after endovenous laser treatment. This procedure is similar to hair removal except using a stronger laser. The laser is applied to the surface of your skin, and the beam penetrates your skin without damaging it. The heat from the laser beam damages varicose veins and closes them off in a manner similar to endovenous laser therapy, which eventually causes them to be destroyed due to a lack of blood flow.
Neither laser varicose vein procedure treats the true cause of varicose veins, which is a poor valve function in your veins. It's a good idea to wear compression stockings after treatment in order to prevent any new varicose veins from appearing.
However, compression stockings won't eliminate varicose veins that already exist in your legs — the bulging caused by blood flowing back down towards your feet is permanent unless it's treated with a laser varicose vein procedure or another method of removal. If your varicose veins are causing you pain or if you simply don't like their appearance, schedule an appointment with a dermatologist in your area to remove them using laser varicose vein procedures — it's minimally invasive and can effectively eliminate varicose veins in your legs by closing them off to blood flow.