Laser thread vein treatment

Picture of thread veins on cheek

Laser thread vein treatment

Thread veins on the nose, cheeks or legs can be removed with lasers. We describe laser treatment & risks involved

What are thread veins?

Thread veins, often called ‘broken veins’, are small visible vessels on the surface of your skin. They are generally harmless but can look unsightly and occasionally bleed if knocked. Thread vein removal can be from any part of the body, although the most common areas are on the nose, cheeks or legs. A number of methods can be used to treat thread veins, but laser is recognised as one of the most effective

How do lasers remove thread veins?

Lasers are very strong pulses of light at a specific wavelength. When used for removal of thread veins, specific lasers are chosen to target the type of vein. Small red thread veins may be best removed with one type of laser, whilst another may be best for larger blue veins. The thread veins absorb the laser light, causing the vessel to heat up very quickly. This heat leads to clotting or even destruction of the vein, which is then harmlessly absorbed by the body

How is laser thread vein removal performed?

Whilst laser thread vein removal can be slightly painful, it is usually a fairly painless procedure. Usually, cold air or a cold jet spray is applied to the treated area, reducing any pain. 

A test patch is usually performed, whereby a small area is treated first. This lets the specialist decide which settings will work best for your thread veins and skin type. The area is then checked after a few weeks, to look for any signs of complications (see below) and if all has healed well then the rest of the area can be treated.

A number of treatments (2-3) may be needed to effectively reduce vein appearance in the area. Occasionally, the veins are resistant to laser treatment and other methods such as sclerotherapy or surgical removal may be needed

What are the risks of laser thread vein removal?

There are a number of risks and complications of laser including: 

Burning/blistering/scarring – as lasers heat up your thread veins, the skin can also overheat and occasionally blister, and even potentially scar. This scarring is a relatively rare complication though. 

Bruising – newer methods tend to aim to reduce the chances of bruising when treating thread veins, but occasionally bruising may be unavoidable. The bruising usually fades over 10-14 days. 

Partial/non response – as described above, not all thread veins will respond to treatment with a laser. After a number of treatments, any remaining veins are probably resistant to that particular laser, and another type of laser or alternative treatment may be considered. 

Recurrence – often, the treated thread veins will never recur, but occasionally they can. This is likely due to blood flow being diverted from the treated veins into adjacent ones, causing them to swell and become visible. This may need further laser treatment.

Change in pigmentation – occasionally, at the same time as the laser treats the thread veins, the colour of the skin itself may also be affected in the treated area. This can result in hypopigmentation (paleness of skin) or hyperpigmentation (darkening of skin). This effect may be temporary and last a few months, or can occasionally be lifelong. The risks are higher with darker skin types. 

Pain – the treated area can feel slightly sore or warm after treatment, which usually responds well to simple painkillers. Any pain is usually short-lived and lasts less than a day or two. 

Infection – blistered and broken skin can allow infection to enter, resulting in a red inflamed area. This may require antibiotics, but could potentially increase the chances of scarring and pigment changes. Cold sores can be activated if the lip area is treated, and a laser specialist may prescribe antibiotics around the time of laser treatment to reduce this risk. 

This list of risks is not exhaustive, and you should discuss possible complications with your specialist. The information provided is as a guide only and you should discuss matters fully with your specialist before deciding if this is the right treatment for you. 

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