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Laser and Intense Pulsed Light for Removal of Dilated Capillaries and other Vascular Lesions

Since the 1980s lasers have been used to remove unwanted vascular lesions, including dilated capillaries and vascular birthmarks. Dr Green specializes in all aspects of vascular lesions of the skin, from large varicose veins to small capillaries and birthmarks and has extensive experience with both laser and intense pulsed light used for their treatment. Dr Green lectures on the uses and indications of lasers and intense pulsed light to physicians locally, nationally and internationally and has written scientific articles on this subject that have been published in prominent medical journals.

What are Dilated Capillaries?
Dilated Capillaries (also referred to as 'broken capillaries', or 'broken blood vessels') appear as red or pink thread-like lines, usually less than 0.2 millimeters in width. When a large number of capillaries are clustered together they may have the appearance of a red patch or a bruise that never disappears. Besides the legs, dilated capillaries are often seen on the face and nose.

Unlike the slightly larger spider veins, dilated capillaries don't usually respond to Sclerotherapy. The safest and most effective treatment is with a laser or intense pulsed light.

The following are examples of dilated capillaries effectively treated by laser:

What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are enlarged veins that are greater than 0.2 millimeters but less than 2 millimeters in width. They are usually blue or purple. While often flat, they may protrude, especially when standing. Sclerotherapy remains the most effective non-surgical method for removing spider veins

The following are examples of spider veins:

How is laser light and intense pulsed light used to remove dilated capillaries and other vascular lesions, including birthmarks?
Laser and intense pulsed light are directed through the skin targeting the unwanted vessels. The light used is such that it is preferentially absorbed by hemoglobin within the capillary or vascular lesion. The absorbed light is converted to heat, which irreversibly alters the capillary wall promoting its removal.


What kind of vascular lesions are treated by laser?
Laser and intense pulsed light are the most effective means for removing dilated capillaries and vascular lesions that are comprised of numerous dilated capillaries, including birthmarks such as port-wine stains. Other vascular lesions that consist of capillaries also respond favorably including spider angiomas and cherry hemangiomas. Laser and intense pulsed light are minimally effective for spider veins and varicose veins. These larger vessels are more effectively and efficiently treated by Sclerotherapy.

The following are examples of Spider Angiomas and Cherry Hemangiomas that have been successfully treated with Laser:

Cherry Hemangioma Spider Angioma

Which type of laser and intense pulsed light device does Dr. Green use?
The VersaPulse® laser and the Starlux® intense pulsed light are the devices that Dr Green uses. They have demonstrated to be consistently and reproducibly effective in eradicating unwanted dilated capillaries and vascular lesions consisting of such capillaries.

Starlux Laser

Is there any harm in removing capillaries and other benign vascular lesions?
No. A dilated capillary is usually functionless - it merely pools blood within its channel. By the time dilated capillaries have appeared, normal capillaries, in the same vicinity, have taken over their function. The removal of dilated capillaries or other vascular lesions does not adversely affect the local circulation and is considered safe.

Does treatment result in the appearance of new capillaries?
Treatment does not stimulate new capillary growth. However, anyone who has dilated capillaries is likely predisposed to this problem and can expect new dilated capillaries to develop, whether or not pre-existing capillaries have ever been treated.

What can I expect after treatment?
After treatment the skin overlying the capillaries may be somewhat red and swollen. This resolves in a few hours to a few days. During the subsequent days and weeks, the successfully treated capillaries disappear. You may resume all normal activities immediately after treatment with laser and intense pulsed light.

How often is treatment performed?

About one month after treatment, the sites are examined to observe if any capillaries remain. At that time, if capillaries are present they can be retreated.

How many treatments are required?
The number of treatments will vary depending upon the number of capillaries present and their location. Those on the face respond much more effectively than at other sites. Usually, one treatment on the face is sufficient to remove these red areas. On the legs several treatments are typically required. Other factors affecting the number of treatments include skin complexion and the color and size of the capillaries. Capillaries which are large and bright red in color respond much better than those that are faint.

How will I feel after treatment?
Immediately after treatment you should feel fine without any discomfort. Some feel a stinging sensation on the skin, but this is uncommon. If present, it resolves spontaneously, usually within a few hours. You may immediately resume all previous activities including aerobics, running and swimming.

Is treatment with laser safe?
Yes. These vascular lasers and intense pulsed light devices are FDA approved specifically for this purpose. They emit visible and infrared light and do not emit ionizing radiation or other harmful rays. Therefore, they can be used during pregnancy and are used even in some infants with port wine stains and other vascular abnormalities.

Are there any side effects?
Laser, as with any medical intervention, will have the potential for adverse effects. Fortunately, serious side effects are almost unheard of. When side effects do occur, they are localized to the treatment site. A small blister can develop and there can be some increased pigmentation, usually temporary, at treatment sites.

Do you have a question?
You may E-mail your questions to us at: rejuvenate@laserderm.net

Schedule an appointment:
You can schedule an appointment for a consultation by calling the office at: (301) 907-7250