So let’s talk spider veins! I don’t know about you, but I started to get them on my calves in my twenties. Being a super pale girl, they’re pretty visible which is why I spend most of my life marinating in self-tan while saving up to treat them every five or so years with either sclerotherapy (injecting them with solution that ultimately causes them to disappear) or with a fancy pants laser.
The last time I treated my veins, I opted for sclerotherapy but this time I tried laser therapy, courtesy of Skin & Body Renewal in the Cape Quarter, and this did the trick just as well but with a lot less ‘ouch’. For those who don’t know, laser vein removal involves zapping each vein with a laser that targets the haemoglobin. This heats it up to the point that the vein’s wall is destroyed, causing it to collapse. Afterwards, your body’s white blood cells eat up the mess and then, 8 to 12 weeks later, your vein simply disappears.
Rockin’ protective eyewear and sooo excited to get my veins zapped, yo! See that rad Veinlite? Run it over your legs and they look like road maps. It helps your therapist see exactly where to place her laser.
So, your first question is probably this: ‘Oh, my God, does that hurt?’ Merrily, it doesn’t. If anything, it feels like you’re getting laser hair removal. And not with the old laser that used to sting like hell – I’m talking about new laser hair removal, the kind Legs 11 does, where you don’t really feel it. I mean, sure, every now and again your therapist might hit a sweet spot that makes you jump but for the most part its no big deal and I didn’t even both popping a painkiller beforehand. Also, Skin & Body Renewal use a Nd:YAG CoolGlide laser with an icy cold tip that immediately cools and soothes your skin after its been treated.
Now let’s talk about my veins specifically. I wanted to take a shot of my entire leg to do a before and after and realised that as my veins are so fine, you actually can’t see them from far away. Thus all my shots are close-ups and, even though I had lots of veins to zap, I chose to focus on just three specifically photogenic ones on just my right leg – on my ankle, the side of the knee and on my thigh – for the sake of creating before and after shots that were easy to follow.
Ankle, knee and thigh before laser vein therapy – clicking on this piccie will enlarge it.
In total, I had three treatment sessions but if they’d been longer than 30 minutes each I probably could’ve gotten away with just two. As it turns out, my veins respond really well. In fact, many of them just needed to be hit with the laser just once and that was that. There were a few stubborn dudes that required two zaps, however and the odd random vein that just refused to die. Such is life.
So, after my first treatment, the spots that had been hit with the laser looked a little raised and red, but this went down after a few hours.
This is a wider shot of the area seen in the centre of the collage up above. It was taken while I was still lying on the treatment bed so you’ll see post-zapping redness really is’t a biggie.
The next day, all the redness was gone and I had a tiny welt at the back of my knee in the area I’d asked my awesome therapist, Dourina, to zap twice as I was adamant she really nail those bastards.
My little fish-shaped welt.
I got really lucky with the veins on the side of my knee and calf in that they disappeared after the very first treatment. The ankle vein was a stubborn dude and required two sessions to get rid of.
This is what my leg looked like a week after my first treatment:
Ankle, knee and thigh one week after laser treatment – clicking on this pic will make it bigger.
Looking at the above shot, it’s clear to see the veins in my ankle and thigh look darker than what they did before I started treatment and my knee, aside from the fish, is pretty clear. If I hadn’t known to expect things to get worse before they got better I might have freaked out but I’d been through this stage before with sclerotherapy. When your veins become more visible after treatment, it’s a good thing. It means you managed to target them and they’re in the process of gumming up and collapsing.
This is my leg six weeks after treatment, just before my second laser session:
Ankle, knee (excuse the imprints from the seam of my jeans) and thigh six weeks after treatment – clicking on this pic will make it bigger.
As you can see, that ankle vein has diminished but is still there (li’l bastard), my knee is totally clear and free of the fish (Woo hoo! God bless you, Environ Derma-Lac!) and my messy looking thigh has totally cleared up to the point where there’s just a single dark hetch mark under the skin that you could easily mistake for an ingrown hair. Thus, my second laser session focused on zapping the ankle vein once more and then treating my left leg which we didn’t get around to doing in session one.
This is my ankle two days after its second zapping:
No redness, no bruising. Just the slight, blurry ghost of a vein and faint impression marks from my jeans.
So, now it’s time for the big reveal. Are you ready to see my leg six weeks after session two?
Ankle, knee and thigh – all clear.
To give you a good overview of the journey, lets compare what I started with against the final result:
I believe a ‘ta da!’ would be justified.
So, there you have it. Within just two sessions I was able to clear my entire right leg (and half of my left) and, after three, I’d sorted out both my pins. Yayness!
If this is something you’ve been considering, just do it. It’s quick, easy, almost painless and very effective. While you might not get to obliterate every last visible vein, the improvement is vast. Another reason to move fast? The winter’s months are ideal for treating your legs as you can hide them away during the period where the veins looks worse.
Price-wise, Skin & Body Renewal works on the time you spend with the laser. A 30 minute leg session will cost you around R1 250. Depending on the severity of your veins, you may need between 2 and 6 sessions. For the record, however, laser vein removal isn’t limited to your legs. You can also treat veins on your face (this usually costs around R1 000) and just about anywhere else provided it’s less than 4mm in size.
Got any questions? I’ll do my best to answer in the comments section below. Otherwise get in touch with one of Skin & Body Renewal’s super knowledgeable on site doctors on (021) 421 9093.
P.S. Skin and Body Renewal is the same salon that gave me a few i-Lipo sessions a while back. If you’d like to check it out, you’ll find it over here.
P.P.S. Jinne girls! Do you realise how many potential husbands, bosses and what not Google stalk me… only to find horrible before and after shots of muffin tops and now nasty leg veins? Let it never be said I don’t take one for the team. And yes, you’re very welcome.