Varicose veins are veins that have become enlarged and filled with blood. They’re usually visible, looking like a purple or blue knotty mass below the skin’s surface.
Varicose veins are similar to spider veins, but the two are distinct medical issues. Spider veins are capillaries that have become enlarged, and they typically look like miniature varicose veins. Spider veins are just a cosmetic issue, but varicose veins can pose serious health risks.
Varicose veins usually appear on the legs; however, they can be anywhere on the body.
Doctors have a few different ways to treat varicose veins. Wearing compression stockings is one of the least invasive treatment options, so it’s often tried first. If compression stockings don’t resolve the issue, a doctor may recommend sclerotherapy, foam sclerotherapy, an ambulatory phlebectomy, or laser vein treatment.
There are several laser treatments for varicose veins, but the concept behind all of them is similar. These treatments use a laser to harden a varicose vein. (Doctors are able to use highly focused lasers to harden only the vein and not cause significant harm to surrounding tissue.)
In hardening the vein, the laser damages the vein. The damaged vein will close, which cuts off the blood flow through the vein. Blood will instead go through a nearby healthy vein, and the damaged vein will eventually die. Once the vein dies, the body will naturally destroy the vein until it’s no longer present.
The different laser treatments for varicose veins can be categorized into two groups. External treatments can effectively treat minor varicose veins and spider veins. Endovenous treatments are used to treat varicose veins that are large or deep.
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