Thread veins or spider veins are small, prominent blood vessels that run just below the surface of the skin. These can be red or purple in colour and are known medically as telangectasias. Thread veins often affect the skin on the face and the legs. Thread veins on the face and legs, although not a health problem can cause discomfort and embarrassment to many people, leading to a loss of self-esteem, particularly as clothing choices become restricted. Many people who have thread veins find them unsightly and unfortunately these do not usually disappear on their own.
Thread veins can occur due to a variety of reasons such as sun exposure, skin aging, long-term topical steroid use, hormones such as oestrogen and thread veins can even run in families and be a part of an inherited condition. Different types of thread veins require different modalities of treatment. As such, thread vein removal is very customised to the individual and our practitioners will be able to recommend the best method of thread vein removal for you.
IPL stands for Intense Pulsed Light. IPL is a safe and effective treatment for conditions such as rosacea, broken thread veins and spider naevi. IPL is also used for hair reduction and rejuvenation. The IPL treatment is a type of light therapy that utilises a range of wavelengths to target the pigments in blood vessels and hairs. The energy provided by these wavelengths is taken up by the darker pigments in blood vessels.
The IPL treatment head delivers a specific range of wavelengths to the treatment area. The energy carried by the wavelengths of light penetrates just below the skin’s surface and gets absorbed by the pigments in blood vessels and haemoglobin (protein in blood). The heat energy generated by the treatment head causes the vessel walls to heat up and break down. By destroying the vessel walls the filling ability of the blood vessel is reduced and so is its appearance. After a series of treatments the entire blood vessel is broken down and is absorbed into the blood stream. The result being a visible reduction in redness as well as the appearance of thread veins.
The Nd:YAG or just YAG, treatment is an alternative to IPL. The YAG treatment head delivers a precise energy level to the target vein that gets absorbed by the blood stream. Here at The London Dermatology CentreTM we offer both treatment methods so that our experienced practitioners can provide the optimum treatment for all skin types.
The YAG treatment head delivers a precise energy level to the target vein that gets absorbed by the blood stream. The heat generated by the light source heats up the vessel’s walls which breaks it down. By breaking down the vessel wall the filling ability of the vein is reduced thereby reducing its appearance. After a period of time the entire vein is broken down and gets absorbed into the blood stream.
On the day of your procedure your aesthetic practitioner will go through everything with you and answer any questions you may have. Then, you’ll lie back and relax on one of our treatment beds while the practitioner applies a cooling gel to the area to be treated. You’ll be asked to wear some goggles to protect your eyes from the light of the IPL and YAG machine and then your treatment will begin. The aesthetic practitioner will pass the treatment head over the treatment area. You may feel some slight discomfort during the procedure which is often described as a pinging sensation.
The IPL and YAG laser treatment can provide a long-term solution to thread veins and rosacea in just a few fast and easy treatments. On average, patients with rosacea and thread veins require between 3 and 5 treatments to achieve the best possible results. Unlike other treatments, there is little to no downtime associated with the procedure so you can return to your normal routine straight after the treatment. Depending on the size of the thread veins you may be able to see results after a single session.
When carried out by a trained professional the IPL and YAG laser treatment is very safe. As with all procedures there is a small risk of side effects but these are rare. Side effects can include slight redness and swelling of the treated area, blistering or bruising and hyper or hypopigmentation. The treated area will sometimes change colour temporarily as the treatment works at the vascular level and the vessel is being broken down. Any redness or swelling from the treatment generally disappears within a few hours of treatment, and the remaining side effects are very rare. The London Dermatology Centre's dermatologists and aesthetic physicians will carry out a full assessment prior to your treatment to alleviate these risks.
The most common applications of the IPL and YAG laser are in hair reduction and rejuvenation. Rejuvenation is achieved through the reduction of pigmented lesions such as age spots, freckles and other signs of aging including wrinkles in photo-aged skin. Other uses include the treatment of vascular lesions such as thread veins, birth marks and varicose veins in the leg. Some specialised YAG lasers are able to perform tattoo removal.
During the procedure you may experience a very slight pinging sensation as the IPL treatment head is passed over your skin. The sensation experienced by patients has been described as feeling like an elastic band being flicked on to the skin. Prior to your treatment you will do a patch test with one of our aesthetic practitioners. This is to ensure that you do not experience any adverse reaction and to check that your skin type is suitable for the IPL and YAG treatment. You will also be able to experience what the IPL treatment feels like. The IPL and YAG treatment is not painful and does not require any local anaesthetic to be applied prior to the treatment.
For more information regarding the IPL and YAG laser treatment for thread veins please contact us on 0207 467 3720.
Content by Dr Sunil Chopra and Rebecca Perris