Side Effects of Laser Spider Vein Treatment?

I am anxious to get my spider veins zapped, and although it seems pretty safe I am concerned about the hyperpigmentation risk. The med spa I am considering keeps asking about my tanning history, which is making me a little concerned. I have light skin leaning just a tad toward olive, and aside from wearing shorts in the summer do not spend time sunning or tanning. Am I flirting with disaster?

Doctor Answers (9)

Laser Vein Treatment for Olive to Dark Skin

+2

Thank you for your question.

It is true that is that not all lasers are safe for all skin types and misuse can result in permanent darkening (hyperpigmentation) or lightening (hypopigmentation) of the treated skin. These changes tend to affect darker skin to a greater degree, however there are lasers that are successful for darker skin types. In our San Francisco Bay Area practice we use an Nd:YAG laser that has been shown to be safe and effective on most skin types.

The fact that you are being asked about your tanning history is a good thing. Knowing how one’s skin typically responds to UV exposure and last exposure is part of a thorough pre-laser treatment assessment and useful in determining the appropriate laser treatments and settings.

I hope this helps.
 


San Francisco Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 23 reviews

Concern of Hyperpigmentation with Spider Vein Treatment / Laser Vein Treatment

+1

Thank you for your question.  

The most common side effect from spider vein treatment is hyperpigmentation or hypopigmentation of the skin at the treatment sites (spots that look lighter or darker than the adjacent non-treated skin).  This is usually the result of the heat energy from the laser damaging or burning the skin.  With sclerotherapy injections it is either the result of hemosiderin pigment from blood cells getting trapped in the skin or under the skin, or from inflammation of the skin as a result of the chemical reaction that results from the sclerotherapy medication.  These are unfortunate and often unavoidable side effects . . . the skin is intimately associated with the veins.  When heat or chemical is applied to the veins, the skin is at risk for a reaction as well.  The skin side effects that occur from sclerotherapy will usually resolve and fade over time.  But the thermal skin side effects from laser are usually permanent.  For that reason, I recommend sclerotherapy over laser therapy whenever possible.  But there definitely are circumstances in which thermal treatment with heat is preferred (for example, on the face and on the ankles).  For spider veins that are better served with thermal energy (over sclerotherapy) due to their location, I actually prefer the use of Ohmic thermolysis with the VeinGogh or Veinwave device rather than laser whenever possible.  I have found this technology to have less risk of permanent skin damage or thermal burns that leave scars. In addition, the VeinGogh / Veinwave devices are FDA approved for spider vein treatments, as they have been shown to be safe and effective with low risk. I have found Ohmic thermolysis / thermocoagulation to be very effective on the face, legs, and ankles and have also found it to be of lower risk than the laser treatments.  I see patients on a weekly basis that were unhappy with their results with laser for spider veins.

 

My recommendation to you would be that you go see a board certified vein specialist who is a MD, rather than going to the local med spa.  The level of training of the individual performing the procedure is of utmost importance in terms of you getting the results you are looking for.  Vein specialists can usually offer all of the various treatments and recommend the one that is best for your individual skin type and circumstances.

 

I hope that this information was useful to you.

Joel Gotvald, MD, FACS
Austin General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 1 review

Vein Treatment

+1

 If the veins are on the face, no worries.  But if they are on the legs, pigmentation can be a risk for the first year, and if pigmentation occurs, then you will have to wait months to a year for that to fade, or treat with a tattoo laser and this will help reduce the color.

Vivek Bansal, MD
Danville Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

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Laser Hair Removal... Risk of Hyperpigmentation

+1

Laser vein removal is common for treating unsightly spider veins on legs.  Hyperpigmentation is a  common side effect of all laser treatments whether it is on your legs, face, arms, etc.  The med spa you are thinking of going to sounds like they just want you to be aware of the risks and to be cautious about tanning before or after the treatments.  This is a reasonable precaution.  Always make sure the provider whom is treating you has experience with the machine. 

Hope this helps.

Dr. Grant Stevens    

Grant Stevens, MD
Los Angeles Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 67 reviews

Side Effects of Laser Vein Treatments

+1

Hi AAmom.  It's likely that the facility considering this procedure for you is asking about your skin type and tanning habits because they are not using the correct technology.  In the legs, the best laser for small spider veins (less than 1mm) is the long pulsed Nd:Yg laser (1064).  

Using this laser, even if you are olive skin toned, is not a problem.  We use it for African Americans with spider veins and it is perfectly safe.  It is likely this facility is trying to use an IPL or pulsed dye laser, which is an inferior technology for the legs.  We would recommend finding a facility that uses the proper laser technology or as others have suggested consider sclerotherapy.  Good luck.

Harold J. Kaplan, MD
Los Angeles Facial Plastic Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 6 reviews

Problems with Laser Vein Therapy

+1

Make sure you go to a place where there is a physician who has extenssive experience with lazer therapy. Do not go to a place where there is just a tech doin the work. Burns are possible, changes in skin collor are possible as well.

Victoria Karlinsky, MD
Manhattan General Surgeon
5.0 out of 5 stars 9 reviews

Spider veins

+1

Sclerotherapy remains the gold standard for leg veins. That is why there are many lasers for leg veins because some work others may be others do not.

You laser treatment should be evaluated and DONE by the PHYSICIAN. not the nurse, technician etc.If your doctor does not or is not willing to give you the time to treat and explain the risks then find some one who does.

Samir Shureih, MD
Baltimore Plastic Surgeon

Lasering leg veins generally has minimal risk of hyperpigmentation

+1

I'm not sure what platform your physician uses for laser treatment of leg veins, but we have extensive experience with the Lumenis One and we just don't see hyperpigmentation.  I'm not sure your ethnicity but you say you have light skin, slightly olive.  That shouldn't be a problem.  However, it's not a bad idea to get a test shot or two, wait a couple weeks or more, and see how you do.  Also if you do get hyperpigmentation, it usually goes away with time, and can be accelerated with other treatments.

Douglas J. Mackenzie, MD
Santa Barbara Plastic Surgeon
4.5 out of 5 stars 19 reviews

These answers are for educational purposes and should not be relied upon as a substitute for medical advice you may receive from your physician. If you have a medical emergency, please call 911. These answers do not constitute or initiate a patient/doctor relationship.