Diathermy is the use of electrical current to produce heat. This heat is used to cauterise (seal or coagulate) tissue and blood vessels. Electro-cauterisation offers a unique and preferable treatment procedure to eliminate vascular lesions, skin tags and warts.
What Are Vascular Lesions?
Vascular lesions occur when there is a concentration or enlargement of fine blood vessels. The medical term for these unsightly vascular blemishes is telangiectasia. Telangiectases are small dilated capillaries commonly called “broken capillaries” (“broken capillaries” would bleed under the skin and form a bruise, but this is not the case), thread veins, cherry angiomas (blood spots), spider naevi and spider veins (a small cluster that resembles a spider or star) which are usually dull or bright red. Whatever physical form the telangiectases take, they are by definition, dilated blood vessels.
There are many causes of Telangiectasia, hereditary plays a significant role in the development of these lesions. Herieditary Telangiectasia is a congenial weakness in the blood vessel walls. Telangiectasia may be present at birth while some other common causes are ageing, sun exposure, skin injury such as an abrasion, medical conditions such as high blood pressure and also temperature extremes of both hot and cold.
Diathermy can successfully treat smaller dilated blood vessels without injuring the surrounding healthy skin, whilst IPL is the preferred method for treating larger telangiectases. Dilated capillaries of the upper or superficial dermis are essentially disfuncional. They carry blood but are too large to nourish cells effectively. Hence the treatment causes no risk to the health of the skin.
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Treatment of Telangiectasia
This is an example of the problem under the skin. The thick section on the top centre is the dilated capillary, which is seen on the skin.
The treatment to remove Telangiectases involves blocking the blood flow in the capillary (vessel). Blockage of the capillary is achieved by coagulating a small segment of the vessel.
The blood still flows around the effected area as not all vessels are coagulated, supplying blood to the skin. This picture shows coagulated area replaced by scar tissue.
A new channel (vessel) forms through the scar tissue, smaller, less visible than the previous dilated one and is again functional.
What Else Can Diathermy Treat?
Skin tags are very common soft harmless lesions that appear to hang off the skin. They develop in both men and women as they grow older. They are skin coloured or darker and range in size from 1mm to 5cm. They are most often found in the skin folds (neck, underarms, groin). They tend to be more numerous in obese persons and in those with type 2 diabetes. Skin tags are made up of loosely arranged collagen fibres and blood vessels surrounded by a thickened or thinned-out epidermis.
Warts are tumors or growths of the skin caused by infection with Human Papilloma Virus (HPV). The wart is burned by diathermy and though this works in most cases, 20 percent of warts can return within a few months. Repeat treatment is therefore sometimes required.