Venous lake on your lip?
Venous lake is a venous malformation, often in the lower lip, that we believe results from trauma and some genetic factor. The venous lake laser treatment for your blue lip lesion is a common procedure in our office.
Do you have a blue bump on your lip? Has it grown slightly over the years? Does it look something like the photo below? There is a very good chance you have a venous lake and we provide the venous lake treatment you are looking for. While these may be called a number of other things, venous lake is the most accurate diagnosis. Similar lesions are called varix, hemangioma, phlebectases and images can be found here.
How do we treat a venous lake?
Our office currently uses both hard and soft tissue lasers for an array of health related issues. We use our lasers for exposing unerupted teeth when doing orthodontics, for removal of chronically inflamed and overgrown gingival tissue, and for removal of hematomas (venous lake). Our hard tissue laser is utilized to place dental fillings without needing to get numb or use a dental drill. Our soft and hard tissue lasers are occasionally used when making a dental crown or when when dealing with dental implants.
The most sought after treatment in our practice when it comes to laser treatments is the removal of a venous lake, which looks like a blue spot on your lip. Utilizing the laser to remove a venous lake is quite simple. This procedure is nearly pain free and only takes about 10 minutes. To see more before and after venous lake photos click here.
Venous lake healing at 2 weeks
So we’ll use a frikin LASER!!! – Austin Powers
We see about 1 person a week for a venous lake laser treatment. Nearly every patient has found me online and nearly every patient has spoken to dermatologist and many have already tried several different treatments. For instance, this yelp reviewer had seen several dermatologists already as well. Many speak of treatment options including tying off microscopic blood vessels (run don’t walk away from a doc still using that outdated treatment method!). Some have already tried a laser treatment.
The problem is that the right laser must be used! I have seen several patients that have had failed treatments from their dermatologist using CO2 lasers. Those are soft tissue lasers that dermatologists use all the time because they target water and thus destroy all tissue non-selectively. When treating a venous lake, we want to target blood and not tissue. Fortunately, the laser we use targets blood. Blood is a common occurrence in the mouth (don’t floss for a week and then floss hard and find out for yourself). Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the dental field relies on lasers that are specific to blood. The discovery that our blood lasers would work great on blood lesions wasn’t a monumental discovery, just someone putting 2 and 2 together.
Want to see more before and after venous lake treatments?
To see our venous lake blog click here. You will see that most lesions look very similar. Size and location are the main differences. The color of the lesion changes slightly depending on the depth the lesion extends under the skin. Our venous lake treatment leads to consistent results.
Live far away from Wheaton, Il?
Most of our venous lake laser treatment patients travel to see us. All we need is a photo ahead of time to help confirm you in fact have a venous lake. We are always capable of treating a venous lake the day of the consult (very convenient for those traveling).
For those traveling we simply ask for a photo follow up; you’ll notice that many of our before and after photos are simply “selfie” cell phone pics. If you live really far away and traveling is out of the question it is likely you will need to find a local dentist with a laser that knows how to treat this issue. Very few dentists have the correct laser and even fewer know of how to do this procedure. If you can get here, it’s better you come here. We are close to Chicago and it’s an amazing city, but try to come when it’s warm 😉
Check out where others come from for their venous lake treatment on our map.
Before you come
Call our office and you will likely be instructed to send us a photo. 2 or 3 photos are better than one. The front office will give you the email of where to send it. That is often all we need for diagnosis. Dr. Bauer will follow up with you if he has any additional questions. Once we confirm you have a venous lake we can get you scheduled. Please do not pick at it or pop it right before you come. It makes it harder for us to treat it effectively. We want to see it at it’s worse! The energy of our laser targets the blood so if you pop it, the venous lake will be harder to treat.
Live far away? All we ask is that you send a follow up photo of the venous lake!
Cost of venous lake treatment
We charge and collect up front $950 (2019) for this treatment and do submit it to dental insurance, but nearly ALWAYS get denied as it’s considered esthetic. This fee includes all follow up treatments (very rarely does anyone need a follow up treatment) if needed and covers lesion no matter how large or how many. If we do get payment, we mail you a refund for that amount.
If you have a HSA or FSA account, we recommend using that. We currently do not submit to medical insurance for this, but we give you the paperwork to submit yourself. However, don’t get your hopes up. It’s hard enough to even figure out how to submit, let alone get payment for something like this. The diagnostic portion of medical ICD-9 code for this procedure is Venous lake (456.8). Since this is considered cosmetic, you will have to have a very generous health insurance plan for it to be covered. I’m not sure anyone has ever succeeded in getting medical to pay for it, none that I am aware of.
Healing time for venous lake lip treatment
Having done as many venous lake treatments as we have, we have learned a few modifications in the procedure that are resulting in even faster healing times. It often takes 3-4 weeks to see total resolution of the area but occasionally we see healing as little as two weeks. If the venous lake is deep into your lip (usually can’t tell until we work on it), a small white fibrous area forms under the skin and takes several more weeks to a couple months to completely disappear. You will be able to find it if you look very closely but the white area will not be detectable to others. No scar, no obvious evidence of anything having ever been there is the norm!
What does a venous lake laser treatment look like during the healing period?
The laser is cauterizing blood and tissue so it looks and heals similar to a burn at first and then a scab. The larger the area that needs treatment the worse it will look during the healing phase. It can be swollen and be red, black, white, grey, and/or red. This patient sent a healing photo just short of two weeks of his two venous lake lesions. The worst of his healing was over by then.
Venous Lake reviews
I can say with a good deal of confidence that nearly 100% of the patients are very satisfied with their results and process. We do enough of these laser treatments that there will always be someone not happy about something, like the young woman who emailed me follow up pictures on July 3rd at 5:36pm and then left a 3 star review on July 5th at around 2:30pm because our office is too slow to respond. Just so it’s clear I don’t plan on emailing you back on holidays to let you know your healing looks fine. Most are more like these
Success rate of venous lake removal with laser is 100% and 95% remain gone at 5 year mark.
We are able to remove 100% of venous lakes with the laser and have a 95% success rate at 5 years. In other words we have a slightly less than a 5% recurrence rate. The majority of those that we have seen recur come back very faint and small and would most likely never be noticeable by the individual if they did not know to look for slight blue variations in that area. In other words, even the recurrences are practically unnoticeable. A small percentage, maybe 1-2%, come back and can although we can treat again they are too deep within the lip to completely eliminate. We do offer complimentary retreatments for 5 years. There is no long term data in existence for this treatment. Our oldest treatments are close to 10 years but there is not enough to comment on the 10 year success rate.
Complications of venous lake laser treatment
Having treated hundreds of these over the last decade we have seen most of the likely complications that can occur. Some we can avoid by changing and improving our protocols, some we can not avoid.
Our reported complication rate is under 5%. The complications we have seen are infection, fibroma (scar like tissue) formation, and temporary numbness in the area. We have also seen a 5 year recurrence rate of under 5%. Recurrences that we have seen were usually very minor. All recurrences and complications have occurred on larger venous lake lesions.
Recurrence of the venous lake
The photo below is of a venous lake recurrence 2 and 1/2 years later. This doesn’t look like a large lesion but it is. The way you can tell by looking that it is large is that it is actually producing a swelling in the lip. This lesion is deep under the tissue so doesn’t look as blue. These are difficult if not impossible for the laser to completely treat, because they are so deep. Treatment will improve the appearance but may not ever be able to completely treat.
Below it the same patient 3 weeks after her second complimentary treatment. It looks good now but I think it will recur yet again. We treat for 5 years for free after the initial treatment.
Firboma formation after venous lake laser treatment
This occurs sometimes and is usually too small to notice. It feels like a small bump in the lip. We have very few people where it was large enough to be visible without pursing the lips. We went back a few months later and were able to remove the fibroma with the laser without issue. However, the fibroma is often small enough that we can miss it with the first surgery (happened on the case below).