The appearance of thread or spider veins on the face and body is medically known as telangiectasia and is a common concern for many people in the UK. Although not life threatening the condition can be unsightly and frequently causes embarrassment and low self-esteem.
Not to be confused with varicose veins which are large, bulky and can cause extreme discomfort, thread veins are blood vessels or small veins located just below the skin’s surface that have enlarged, making them visible to the naked eye. The term spider veins is used to describe a group of thread veins that emit from the same point, casting a red glow to the surrounding area of skin.
What causes thread veins varies greatly, from prolonged sitting or standing to hormonal changes, medications, poor diet or even excessive exposure to the sun or wind. In some cases there is no obvious cause and the condition may just be a hereditary characteristic of your family. If you have any concerns about visible veins then it is always advisable to seek the advice of your own doctor or specialist skin clinic.
Thankfully a modern medical treatment called Nd:YAG Laser Therapy is now widely available to rid sufferers of the majority of unattractive thread veins. This effective treatment uses a pulsed (or Q-Switched) output that operates on a higher level (1064nm wavelength) than previous lasers making it much more successful on larger veins.
Where some lower wavelength lasers could not be used on people with darker skin tones whose naturally high level of melanin (pigment) caused excessive heating of the skin during treatment, the Nd:YAG laser can be used on all skin tones, although recently tanned skin should not be treated until faded. The higher strength of the Nd:YAG laser also means larger areas can be treated in fewer sessions, reducing the cost and duration of the overall treatment.
An Nd:YAG laser treatment session usually takes approximately thirty minutes. Your clinic will carry out an initial assessment wherein it will be decided how many sessions you need. Before the procedure begins, the affected area will be cooled down to limit the laser’s heating effect and then a pulse of light will be placed directly over one thread vein at a time.
Don’t worry, you will be given protective goggles to protect your eyes from the light. The veins will absorb the laser’s light and in a process known as thermocoagulation they will heat until they can no longer function. During treatment it is normal to feel a sharp pinprick of heat and a tingling sensation but the pre-treatment skin cooling will limit any discomfort to a bearable level and no anaesthesia is necessary.
After treatment the damaged vessels will naturally break down and be absorbed into your body, leaving little or no trace apart from a faint greyish tinge, redness or raised skin which will gradually diminish. In rare cases there may be some slight bruising but the majority of side-effects are short-lived.
Q-Switched Nd:YAG laser therapy leaves reduces the appearance of thread and spider veins making them unnoticeable in the majority of cases. It is one of the fastest, most cost-effective and above all most successful treatments available today.