What are Venous Lakes?
Venous lakes are dark blue or purple nodules caused by a collection of blood. Though venous lakes may develop anywhere on the body, they are most often seen on the lower lips. Venous lakes are often soft and squashable and can vary in size, ranging from 0.2 to 1 cm in diameter. They are benign and are often confused with melanoma due to their dark colour.
What Causes Venous Lakes?
The exact cause of the venous lakes is still not completely understood. It is believed that long-term exposure to sun can cause chronic damage to the walls of superficial veins making them easily injured and dilated. Some patients remember biting their lip accidentally or traumatising there lip in another way prior to the development of venous lakes. Smoking is also thought to be a risk factor for the development of venous lakes, although no firm evidence exists for this.
What Are The Treatments Available For Venous Lakes?
Treatment is not usually needed for venous lakes as they are benign. However, they can appear unsightly attracting unwanted comments and can occasionally be painful or bleed.
The gold-standard treatment for venous lakes at Melbourne Skin & Dermatology is vascular laser. The two main laser frequencies used are 532 nm or 1064 nm depending on the size and depth of the venous lake. This treatment causes the blood vessels to coagulate (ie shut down and shrivel up).
Other less appropriate and old-fashioned treatment options for venous lakes include;
- Cryotherapy: This involves the application of liquid nitrogen to the affected area. This procedure can leave a pale scar.
- Fine Wire Diathermy: This procedure involves using high-frequency electrical current through the skin using a needle-like probe. The heat generated destroys the blood vessels causing venous lakes.
- Excision: Venous lakes can be removed by surgical excision however this is an expensive option and may result in an unsightly scar.
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