How Does Vein Removal Occur?
At Richmond Aesthetic Surgery, our board-certified plastic surgeon Neil Zemmel, MD utilize a KTP laser to target blood vessels that lead to red discoloration of the face. KTP stands for the Potassium Titanyl Phosphate (KTP), and this crystal is used as the laser medium, producing a wavelength of 532 nanometers. The KTP laser only targets the oxy-hemoglobin in your blood, thereby leaving surrounding structures and tissue unaffected. The laser beam passes through the skin and penetrates, shrinks, or ablates the targeted vessel. The blood vessel walls then collapse, seal, and later dissolve within the body, thus diminishing or eliminating their appearance. Due to genetics, hormones, sun exposure, and aging, the development of new veins may reoccur and additional treatments may therefore be necessary.
What Does the KTP Treat?
The KTP laser is used for treating various skin disorders involving enlarged or disorganized blood vessels beneath the skin’s surface. The most common conditions treated are telangiectasias (fine spider veins in the cheeks and around the nose), rosacea, hemangiomas, cherry angiomas on the body, port wine stains, and poikiloderma of civatte.
What Can I Expect?
The redness and vein removal procedure will require the patient to wear protective eye wear throughout the treatment. The treatment consists of placing a hand piece against the surface of the skin and activating the laser. Many patients describe each pulse to feel like the snapping of a rubber band against the skin. Topical anesthetic may be applied but is not typically required or recommended. An average treatment takes 15 minutes and costs $300.00. Most patients require 1 to 3 treatments for optimal clearance. Smaller areas or isolated vessels may be treated for a lower cost but require a consultation with Dr. Zemmel.
Immediately following treatment, an ice pack may be applied to soothe the treated area. Care should be taken in the first few days following treatment to avoid scrubbing the area and/or use of abrasive skin cleansers. A bandage or patch may help to prevent abrasion of the treated area. Prior to treatment and two weeks following treatment, patients should protect the area with a physical sunblock containing zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide, as well as protect the area from direct sun exposure to reduce the risk of post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (darkening). After treatments, loose clothing should be worn to avoid rubbing, the areas should not be exposed to swimming pools, saunas, hot tubs, hot showers or baths, and contact sports should be avoided until healing is complete.
As with any laser treatment, there is a risk of side effects. The most common side effects from the KTP laser treatment are usually minor in nature and short lived such as pain, redness, swelling, tenderness, hyperpigmentation (darkening), and hypopigmentation (lightening). Pain may occur for some during treatment, which can be reduced by contact cooling and, if necessary, a topical anesthetic. Redness and swelling are not uncommon, and in rare instances soreness may occur. Swelling is common, especially on the upper cheeks and forehead, and usually subsides in a few days. Cold packs will be applied after treatment to limit swelling. Generally, cosmetic lasers work best on untanned, lighter skin individuals versus darker skin tones. Bruising affects up to 10% of patients and fades with time. On rare occasions a small blister may form within the first three days and may be an indication of recent sun exposure. To reduce your risk of side effects, we strongly recommend the use of a broad spectrum sun block with an SPF of 35 or higher, applied to the area a minimum of two weeks prior to treatment. In addition, shave the treatment area of any surface hair; do not apply any self-tanning creams or lotions for two weeks leading up to your treatment; do not use a tanning bed, or arrive with tanned skin from sun exposure in the two weeks before treatment.
The following is a copy of our post-treatment instructions that you will receive after your treatment in our office.
KTP LASER VEIN TREATMENT POSTCARE INSTRUCTIONS
- Mild redness, blotchiness and swelling is normal in the treated areas and will subside within the first 48 hours after treatment.
- Smaller vessels may resolve immediately after treatment. Larger vessels may darken initially then take up to 4 weeks or more, and potentially several treatments, to resolve completely. Although rare, bruising is a normal effect after treatment of larger vessels and may be managed with Arnica Montana, an oral homeopathic supplement or topical cream that helps to alleviate bruising and may be purchased at drug stores, health food and nutritional supply stores such as Whole Foods or GNC.
- You may return to your normal activities the same day but try to avoid activities that may increase your heart rate or body temperature or thin your blood (strenuous exercise, hot tubs, aspirin, Motrin, alcohol, saunas) for 24 hours after treatment, as this may prolong redness and swelling. DO NOT DISCONTINUE PRESCRIPTION BLOOD THINNING MEDICATIONS (EX. COUMADIN)
- Gentle moisturizer or Aquaphor ointment may be applied to alleviate dryness or flaking after treatment. Until all redness, swelling, and flaking skin resolves, please refrain from using any active ingredients that have a drying or exfoliating effect such as tretinoin, retinols, alpha or beta hydroxy acids. Once the skin is healed, you may resume your skin care regimen.
- Do not rub, scratch, or pick at the treated area. If you experience any blistering, flaking or crusting, you may apply Aquaphor ointment over the affected area.
- Mineral makeup may be applied to cover visible redness and can be applied immediately after treatment, as tolerated.
- Mild to moderate post-procedure tenderness may be relieved with cool packs and Tylenol or Motrin. Oral Benadryl (diphenhydramine) may be taken to alleviate itching.
- Sun exposure to the treated area may cause temporary hyperpigmentation or prolong redness and swelling. Please protect the treated area with a physical sunblock of SPF 30 or higher for 2 weeks after treatment.
- Additional KTP laser treatments may be scheduled 4 or more weeks after initial treatment, as desired. Please stop using prescription retinoids (ex. Retin-A) or any products that have a drying or exfoliating effect for 3 days before your next treatment.