Venous Lakes Treatment & Management

Updated: Mar 22, 2022
  • Author: Claudia Hernandez, MD, FAAD; Chief Editor: Dirk M Elston, MD  more...
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Medical Care

There are no established medical treatments for venous lakes. However, Cebeci et al report the successful treatment of 25 patients with venous lake of the lip using sclerotherapy. Polidocanol 1% was the sclerosing agent, and all patients had total resolution of their lesions. [4]  Separately, a review of 33 patients treated with ethanolamine oleate 5% sclerotherapy also found complete regression of all lesions. [5]


Surgical Care

Surgical biopsy or excision can be useful for confirmation of the diagnosis or for venous lake removal. 

Surgical treatment by cryosurgery, electrosurgery, sclerotherapy, and excision have all been reported to be successful forms of therapy for venous lakes. [6, 7, 8, 9, 10] Although all of these approaches are economical, multiple treatments may be necessary. Treatment of venous lakes may be complicated by prolonged bleeding, swelling, pain, textural changes in treated areas, and scarring.

A report of a single case of venous lake in an uncharacteristically young, 20-year-old patient relates immediate elimination of the lesion with minimal scarring using intralesional radiofrequency (RF) with a modified insulated intravenous cannula as an extended probe. [11]

The use of the argon laser and infrared coagulator has required up to 10-14 days for resolution of crusting and eschar formation. A tendency for scar formation with these therapies has been reported in the literature. [12]

Using the theory of selective photothermolysis, dermatologic laser surgeons have effectively used visible-light lasers such as the flashlamp pulsed dye laser at carefully chosen wavelengths, pulse durations, and doses to selectively destroy blood vessels, minimizing injury to the surrounding healthy skin. Numerous treatments may be necessary with this laser to clear the venous lake. Although scarring does not appear to be common with this laser, bleeding may occur after venous lake treatment. [13]

Other visible-light lasers include the quasicontinuous wave lasers, such as copper vapor, krypton, and potassium-titanyl-phosphate (KTP) lasers. [14, 15, 16, 17, 18] These lasers carry a slightly higher risk of scarring compared with the pulsed dye laser.

Wang et al reviewed 41 patients treated with 755 nm alexandrite laser for venous lakes of the lip. The treatment was effective in all patients, with 33 (80.5%) reaching the optimal outcome. Most patients needed a single treatment, with a maximum of 3 treatments to achieve good results. [19]

One study reported a series of 34 patients responding well to long-pulsed neodymium-doped yttrium, aluminum, and garnet laser (Nd:YAG) laser, with 94% of the lesions clearing completely with 1 treatment and no complications reported. [20, 21] The high rate of success is attributed to the deep-penetrating 1064-nm wavelength and the longer pulse widths, which damage larger vascular structures. Authors of a recent review article stated in their experience between pulsed dye laser, intense pulsed light, and Nd:YAG, the long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser was "superior to achieve fast and safe results." [22]

Nammour et al reported that, in a comparison study of 143 patients, there were no significant differences in patient or clinician satisfaction with results from erbium/chromium-doped yttrium, scandium, gallium, and garnet (Er,Cr:YSGG), carbon dioxide, Nd:YAG, and diode 980 nm lasers at 6- and 12-months follow-up. [23]

A single case report describes intense pulse light source treatment with a cool thermocoupling gel to protect the epidermis. This approach has been efficacious and, similar to the visible-light lasers, requires no anesthesia. No purpura or crusting and no visible scarring were observed at 1-month follow-up visits. [24] Because only 1 case report has been published, more studies are needed prior to making conclusions about the effectiveness of this modality for venous lakes.

Vaporization with infrared lasers (eg, carbon dioxide laser) has been effective. One study reported that on average, only 1 session was needed to treat venous lakes, and the postoperative crusting resolved after 7-10 days. [25] Unlike visible-light lasers, local anesthesia is needed when venous lakes are treated with a carbon dioxide laser. Scarring, including pigmentary and textural changes, is thought to be more likely with carbon dioxide lasers compared with visible-light lasers.

An 810-nm diode laser was used on 2 patients in 1 study. [26] Both patients needed 2 treatments for clearance, and no atrophy or scarring was noted after treatments.

Multiwavelength laser therapy (595-nm pulsed-dye and 1064-nm Nd:YAG) have been tried with some success since the combination of lasers helps reduce pulse duration and fluence. [27] However, the studies have been small and more are needed.

With continuing advances in the technology of new lasers and intense pulsed light sources, excellent results with reduced costs, minimal pain, minimal postoperative care, and scarring will be available to an increasing patient population.