Details of Condition
Benign vascular lesions are enlarged and proliferating blood vessels that appear on the surface of the skin as splotches, dots, bulges and spider shapes in a variety of colors, ranging from red to purple or brown. They typically result when damaged valves in the vein cause blood to stagnate rather than be pumped back to the heart, causing the vein walls to stretch and protrude. In some locations, these veins are so tiny, even microscopic, that they are not visible under normal conditions.
In addition, vascular lesions are often a distressing cosmetic problem, and sometimes even carry a psychological effect, due to their unsightly appearance.
Scope of the Problem
Up to 80 million adults in the U.S. suffer from benign vascular lesions, with varicose and smaller spider veins in the leg the most prevalent types.
Other common aesthetic problems relating to the vascular system includes: broken capillaries of the face, red birthmarks, Rosacea, vascular malformations, hemangiomas, and port wine stains. Also categorized with these conditions are scars from accidents, surgery, acne, or other diseases.
Although most vascular lesions do not pose a serious medical threat, improved circulation tends to impart a feeling of good health.
Types of Lesions
The most common type of vascular lesion is the condition known as varicose leg veins. Varicose veins are enlarged blood vessels (usually greater than 1 mm in diameter) that often bulge and appear “ropey” or entwined. They occur when the wall of the vein weakens or collapses. When near-surface veins are subjected to high pressure, they dilate and elongate, which causes them to develop the purple-blue color associated with varicose veins. The color is what gives varicose veins their name, which is derived from the Greek term for “grapelike”.
Leg veins tend to increase as people age. Among women aged 40 to 50 years old, 41% have unsightly leg veins, increasing to 72% between 60 to 70 years of age. An estimated 24% of men aged 30 to 40 years old have varicose veins, increasing to 43% among 70 year olds. In the United States, six million workdays per year are lost due to complications of varicose veins. In one study, it was revealed that more than one million Americans suffer from leg ulcers caused by abnormal circulation resulting from varicose veins, and nearly 100,000 Americans are disabled by the condition.
Large bulging varicose veins may cause pain, and indicate a more serious vascular disorder. This condition is believed to be hereditary, but is also associated with injury, infections, hormonal factors and lifestyles. Obesity, pregnancy, old age and prolonged standing may also contribute to the condition.
Varicose veins can cause pain and fatigue in the legs. In some cases, varicose veins may even lead to fairly severe physical problems — so treating them promptly can help you look and feel better.
Spider veins are usually found close to the surface of the skin. They are caused by small blood vessels that dilate, or swell up, to the point where they prevent the blood from flowing properly. Spider veins are often fed by other veins under the skin, making it more difficult to treat them effectively.
Spider veins have many of the same causes and symptoms as varicose veins, and patients often suffer from both conditions at the same time. Successful treatment of spider veins can add to your physical comfort as well as your physical appearance.
Capillaries are tiny blood vessels that connect arteries and veins. Your body contains thousands of capillaries, so it’s not surprising that, over time, a number of them will break. For the most part, broken capillaries are virtually invisible. However, when a person has many broken capillaries in one area, they can begin to appear as red streaks or blotches. The most irritating are small red ones that appear on the face, especially on the nose and cheek areas. Other common bothersome locations are the neck and chest areas above the neckline.
Broken capillaries are generally caused by aging, trauma, sun exposure, and certain lifestyle factors. While usually not physically harmful, they can detract from a person’s appearance.
Birthmarks appear in a variety of sizes and are largely the result of abnormal pigmentation in the skin. An excess of red pigment causes red birthmarks, with their color on the skin ranging from a dark maroon to fairly bright red. While birthmarks seldom lead to serious physical illness, they can be a definite burden on those who have them.
Port Wine Stains
Similar in appearance to red birthmarks, port wine stains show up as red or purple blotches on the skin. Although cosmetic in nature, they are generally caused by tiny, ruptured feeder veins deep beneath the skin. So, while the symptoms are at the skin’s surface, the problem itself originates at a fairly deep subsurface level, and can cause medical concerns, depending on location. Port wine stains appear in 0.3% to 0.5% of newborns and tend to grow progressively darker. With time, they often grow thicker, changing the texture of the skin and becoming more difficult to treat.
Rosacea is a medical condition that causes blood vessels to dilate or expand, and flush venous blood into the skin, leaving bluish-purple blotches near the skin’s surface. Rosacea can also cause pimples and/or blisters on the nose and cheek areas. While this condition poses no significant health threat, it can be very unsightly and aggravating to people who suffer from it.
Since there are thousands of veins in each human body’s vascular system, it’s not uncommon to have a few malformed veins. However, when the number of malformed veins is excessive, such that they begin to interfere with the vascular system’s ability to carry blood through the body, significant medical and cosmetic problems can arise. Symptoms may include poor circulation, feelings of cold in the hands and feet, and purpled veins and blotches visible at, or just below, the skin’s surface.
Another type of vascular malformation, hemangiomas, are typically raised, protuberant lesions that consist of dilated vessels which often appear within one month of birth. Approximately 10% of all babies are born with hemangiomas. Although there is some regression during the first few years, by age 12, 10 to 12% of hemangiomas have some kind of growing, expanding lesions. In adults the most common hemangiomas are cherry angiomas that appear as red, smooth projections.
Few of us go through life without acquiring a few scars from accidents, surgery, or disease like acne. Scars are nature’s response to the healing of a skin tissue wound, and may involve tiny red vessels called venules that appear beneath the scar tissue and give it its red appearance. The larger and more visible the scar, the more unsightly and disfiguring is its effect.
Traditional Treatments and Limitations
Until recently, only a few effective treatment options existed for varicose veins and other benign vascular lesions, as most veins and vascular conditions are stubbornly resistant to the traditional arsenal of weapons to combat them.
The primary treatment method for varicose leg veins and spider veins has been a procedure known as sclerotherapy. It involves using a needle to inject a special saline or other chemical solution directly into the vein. This hardening solution eventually causes the vein to close up or collapse and become scar tissue that is absorbed back into the body. Though usually effective for the smaller veins, sclerotherapy can be painful, requiring multiple injections and repeat treatment sessions. In addition, the treatment frequently causes side effects, such as bruising, burning, swelling and/or inflammation in the area around the treated veins. Cotton swatches, bandages and compression stockings are required for several days after each treatment.
Early medical laser technology has produced several laser systems that can be applied for the treatment of varicose veins. But unfortunately, as most of these systems utilize only a very specific wavelength of light, they are only partly effective, and treat only a small range of shallow vascular lesions. Few lasers have been found to be consistently successful in treating the larger veins, or complex networks of veins of different sizes and skin depths.
When it comes to the range of vascular lesions, traditional single-wavelength lasers have produced modest success treating superficial lesions, broken capillaries, dilated blood vessels on the face, and associated conditions like Rosacea. Multiple treatments are usually necessary. Certain skin types and conditions, for safety reasons, may restrict the application of particular single-wavelength lasers.
A New Solution: The Vasulight™ System
At long last, a new treatment strategy has recently been introduced to revolutionize vein therapy and the treatment of the widest range of vascular conditions and lesions. This breakthrough technology is pulsed laser light at a near infrared wavelength, combined with a broad band of Intense Pulsed Light™ (IPL™). The solution is called the VascuLight™ system, and it produces effective and long-lasting results.
This is not the conventional laser mechanics found in other devices. Rather, the VascuLight system uses innovative laser physics and advanced computer software to successfully treat a full range of vascular structures, including birthmarks, shallow lesions, and tiny spider veins. Unlike other non-invasive techniques, the VascuLight system successfully “zaps” large blood vessels up to 2 millimeters in diameter and as great as 5 millimeters in depth, including difficult reticular and feeder veins.
With its proprietary Multiple Synchronized Pulsing™ capabilities, the VascuLight system selectively heats different sizes of broken blood vessels at different depths below the skin’s surface, with excellent results. This enables physicians to treat complex and interwoven vascular networks of big twisted vessels and webs of small capillaries with pinpoint control, eliminating the damaged veins, and sparing the adjacent healthy ones. Moreover, one to three VascuLight pulses can achieve complete closure and sealing of the vessels, preventing the return of blood flow and recurrence of unsightly veins.
The IPL driver system makes a substantial difference in the way the skin and vessels react to laser treatment. Over-application of conventional laser energy sometimes burns skin, veins or surrounding tissue. By delivering the laser light in highly focused pulses, the VascuLight computer system allows the skin and healthy surrounding veins and tissue to cool down quickly, thereby avoiding thermal damage. Pain during the treatment, and side effects afterwards are greatly reduced, and most people can return to their normal routines almost immediately.
Another significant advantage of VascuLight technology is that treatment can be administered on virtually any skin type at virtually any time during the year. This is due to its long wave light energy, (1064 nm) which easily passes through the melanin barrier of the skin surface and does not interfere with pigment, thus protecting the skin. The wavelength spectrum and pulsing characteristics of the system also allow physicians to customize treatment parameters for each individual patient according to factors such as skin color, specific location of the vessel, and particular type of vein condition.
Utilizing its patented IPL technology, the VascuLight system is also an effective solution for a vast array of blood vessel abnormalities, such as Rosacea, poikiloderma, birthmarks and scars, age spots and various unwanted pigmentations, as well as hair removal, on all parts of the body.
We have had remarkable success in the treatment of vascular conditions.