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Laser reduces unsightly veins.

They are like varicose veins gone berserk--great caverns of venal material, some wound around each other like worms. They can form a large, protruding ball, and sometimes even have the capability to erode through bone and tissue.

These deformities don't have a fancy name; venous malformation is how doctors refer to the unsightly masses. They are treatable, but using alcohol to shrink them or cutting them out can result in disaster. In children, such surgery is even more sensitive.

Richard Phillips of the Children's Hospital of Michigan, Detroit, has combined the use of lasers with alcohol treatment that effectively shrinks the venous cavities without causing other damage. "What we've been using is ethyl alcohol, which is nearly 100% alcohol. The problem is, when you inject alcohol, some of it goes into the circulation. There's a limit to what you can do with children."

So, along with a small amount of alcohol, a fiber optic laser is inserted into the vein, where it gives off a green-colored light, which is absorbed selectively by anything red, such as blood vessels. The laser works with the alcohol on the blood cells and vessel walls, irritating them and creating a scar, which shrinks the veins. When using the laser in a cavernous area, the inside of the blood vessel begins to heat up and clot the blood. "Energy is released, which closes off the vessels," Phillips explains.
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Title Annotation:circulatory system
Publication:USA Today (Magazine)
Date:Feb 1, 1993
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