Venectasia of the legs

Superficial small veins on the legs like venectasia and teleangiectasia

Venectasia, also called telangiectasia, is a cluster of small blood vessels which develop just beneath the skin surface. These are small blood vessels that dilate a few tenths of a millimetre to a few millimetres in diameter. They are red, blue or purple and sometimes look like a spider's web. If they spread in the same direction, they look like a broom or a paintbrush. That is why, in Belgium, they are sometimes also called 'bezemrijsvaatjes' ('broomstick veins') or 'penseeladers' ('paint brush veins'). Venectasia is a benign phenomenon and rather constitutes an aesthetic problem. It occurs mainly on the legs and more in women than in men. Venectasia is not the same as varicose veins, which are identifiable by their swelling.

Venectasia: sclerosing or laser treatment?

Up until 1998, sclerotherapy was the only treatment to eliminate the unsightly tangle of fine veins on the legs. As with varicose veins, a sclerosing liquid is injected directly into the affected vein and subsequently pressed closed. The body then automatically breaks down the defunct vein (sclerosing). Although this treatment causes some discomfort and cannot always guarantee a satisfactory result, the technique is still widely used.

Since 1998, laser treatment has also been used in addition to sclerotherapy. Meanwhile, the laser devices have evolved considerably and constantly deliver better results. They produce a very powerful light wave with a single wavelength which is perfectly targeted at the spot we want to reach. In the case of venectasia, the red blood cells in the dilated blood vessels are our target.

The high energy dose and the extremely short pulse duration results in selective damage to these defected blood vessels. Laser treatments are very targeted and precise so that the surrounding cells and tissues hardly suffer any damage. The damaged blood vessels will shrink and are eventually destroyed by the body.

At the moment, the results of a laser treatment are clearly better than those for sclerotherapy.

Types of laser devices for the treatment of venectasia

At the Cutaneous Laser Center, we use three types of laser devices:

  • The Cutera Excel V 532 nm and1064 nm Nd-YAG laser
  • the LightSheer 810 nm diode laser
  • the Candela V Beam 1500 µsec dye laser

The results of laser treatment for venectasia

Studies and our own experience have shown the following results for laser treatments of venectasia:

  • 3/4 of the patients have more than 50% improvement after one treatment
  • 4/5 of the patients have more than 50% improvement after two treatments
  • 3/5 of the patients have more than 75% improvement after two treatments

However, the first result can only be assessed after 4 months. Usually, little improvement is seen during the first month and the veins are still very reactive. Some days, it seems to be slightly better, on other days, the situation seems to have worsened still. Only from the second month, we see a gradual, steady improvement. Ultimately, the optimal result can be seen only after four months. This is when the next treatment can also be performed.

Is laser treatment for venectasia painful?

  • Although laser treatment for venectasia is rather painful, it is tolerated by most people. A burning pain arises and can be more pronounced in some places.
  • If you feel too much pain, you can ask to interrupt the treatment for a few seconds and the pain will immediately disappear.

What to expect after the laser treatment?

  • During the days following the laser treatment, scab formation or blistering may occur.
  • The risk of scarring or textural changes is negligible.
  • The risk of temporary brown dyschromia (hyperpigmentation) or lightening (hypopigmentation) of the treated area can be limited by not undergoing laser treatment during the summer and by avoiding possible exposure to UV-light (sun and sunbed) for at the least one month before the treatment.
  • The paler your skin type, the higher the risk of a temporary difference in pigmentation.

Aftercare following laser treatment for venectasia

  • For comfort reasons, it is recommended to cool the skin down after treatment, for example, with cold, wet compresses or washcloths, or possibly with Flamigel.
  • In the case of any scab formation, you can also apply Flamigel 2 to 3 x daily to the treated zone.
  • Rubbing or using soap is not recommended during the first few days after the treatment.
  • If you want to wash the treated zone, we recommend to only dab it lightly with water.

What you also need to know

  • Unfortunately, laser treatment cannot eliminate the sensitivity for developing venectasia and telangiectasia. Therefore, the formation of new similar dilated veins (recurrence) can never be excluded. To prevent your legs from recurrent disfigurement through venectasia in the next few years, you can opt for an annual maintenance treatment
  • Such laser treatment is not appropriate for the treatment of varicose veins (varices). In fact, varicose veins are caused by poorly functioning veins (venous insufficiency). In the case of doubt about laser treatment for varicose veins, a preliminary medical examination of the veins (phlebological examination) will be proposed.
  • During each laser treatment, the patient, the physician(s), staff and any attending family will have to wear special glasses to protect the eyes from the laser light.

If you have any question about the laser treatment of venectasia, do not hesitate to contact us.