Laser for Spider Veins vs Sclerotherapy: A Side-by-Side Look

legs in front of a blue wall

Table of Contents

  • Laser Therapy for Spider Veins
  • Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins 
  • Spider Veins Laser vs Sclerotherapy— Which Is Better?
  • My Vein Treatment Can Help You Find a Vein Specialist in Your Area

Spider veins — also called telangiectasia — is a condition where small veins, damaged due to internal pressure, appear on the skin in a spiderweb-like pattern.1 Though they can appear anywhere on the body, spider veins are more commonly seen on the legs. They are generally harmless and rarely painful.

Spider veins are common not only among people who have to sit or stand for long periods but also among those who’re obese or overweight, pregnant, elderly, and female.2 Whether you’ll get spider veins also depends on your family history and hormone levels — for example, approximately 90% of people who have spider veins inherit them from their parents.

Even though over 80% of men and women start developing spider veins or varicose veins at a younger age, their condition doesn’t become noticeable until they are in their 40s.3

The treatment options available for spider veins and varicose veins include:

  • Laser therapy
  • Sclerotherapy
  • Ohmic thermolysis

Of these, the first two are the most popular for spider veins treatment. This article compares laser therapy and sclerotherapy for spider veins side by side so that you can choose the one that suits you the best. 

Laser Therapy for Spider Veins

Laser therapy for spider veins uses a laser, an intense light beam that penetrates the skin and destroys your spider veins without damaging the surrounding tissue.

Your phlebologist will use a laser machine to emit laser pulses, which penetrate your skin and destroy the spider veins you may have. The heat generated by the laser will also stimulate collagen production, which will tighten the skin over the treated area.

During the procedure, you may feel the warmth and a tingling sensation, and you may experience some redness, itchiness, and slight stinging afterward. For several days after the procedure, you’ll also have to avoid going in direct sunlight to ensure that your skin heals properly. Your phlebologist may also prescribe some medications to reduce any inflammation or discomfort and ask you to use some topical creams to soothe your skin. 

Laser for spider veins is relatively painless, needs no anesthesia, and has a quick recovery time — you can resume normal activities almost immediately. But it is expensive, and some people may not even see the permanent results they desire after multiple sessions.

Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins 

Sclerotherapy is another popular treatment option for spider veins, where a medical professional will inject a solution containing a sclerosing agent — which is a chemical irritant — directly into the affected veins.

After sclerotherapy, you’ll be able to see the results within three to six months. You’ll notice that the affected area has an improved appearance. 

Sclerotherapy is divided into two types:

Liquid Sclerotherapy

In this type of sclerotherapy, your doctor will inject a liquid sclerosing agent solution into the spider veins. It’s affordable and easy to perform, and it offers relatively longer-lasting results than other spider vein treatment methods. It is also much less painful, and it doesn’t even call for the use of anesthesia.

Liquid sclerotherapy is, however, not recommended for people who have active bleeding problems. Also, it calls for the use of multiple injections. 

Foam sclerotherapy

Foam sclerotherapy is used for the larger reticular veins that often “feed” the spider veins. Liquid sclerotherapy can’t be used for such veins because they are simply too large — which means that the liquid used for liquid sclerotherapy will just be washed away after injection.

In this type of sclerotherapy, a foam is injected into the spider veins. This foam is made by combining a liquid sclerosing agent solution with carbon dioxide. The bubbles in this foam increase the surface area that the sclerosing agent can reach on the vein’s inner lining, causing it to close down.

It’s quick, convenient, inexpensive, and relatively painless, and it’s effective on all types of spider veins, producing immediate results almost every time.

Foam sclerotherapy, however, can’t be used to treat large areas. It also calls for the use of multiple injections and can cause temporary swelling in the treated area.

Spider Veins Laser vs Sclerotherapy— Which Is Better?

woman wiping face

Here are some of the key points to consider when choosing between laser therapy and sclerotherapy for spider veins.

  1. Cost. The costs of both treatments are comparable at most vein treatment clinics.
  2. Pain. Laser therapy can be more painful than sclerotherapy. There’s discomfort with the needle sticks in sclerotherapy, but the pain caused by them is not even close to that of the laser. 
  3. Side effects. Laser therapy can cause a burning sensation, swelling, and bruising, which disappear within two weeks to three months. The side effects of sclerotherapy are easily treatable with over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil), or in some cases, with an antihistamine. 
  4. Recovery. Recovery time is the same for both laser therapy and sclerotherapy. After treatment, you’ll need to avoid hot baths and/or hot tubs for about 72 hours because soaking in hot water will dilate your veins, which is the opposite of our goal. You’ll also have to avoid sun exposure during your entire treatment process because it can cause dark pigmentation of the skin, which can take a year or longer to disappear. If you must be in the sun, wear waterproof sunscreen. Finally, you’ll have to avoid high-impact exercise, weightlifting (lower body), and squats for 48 hours. 
  5. Duration. In both cases, the duration of each treatment will depend on the size of the vein being treated. Smaller veins usually need only two or three sessions, but larger ones may require up to five sessions.
  6. Follow-up.  A follow-up is recommended for both treatment modalities at three and six months after the initial treatment, or sometimes sooner. At these follow-ups, your vein specialist will evaluate the treatment results and decide whether additional treatments are necessary.
  7. Treatment duration. Both sclerotherapy and laser therapy for spider veins need multiple sessions of 15 to 30 minutes.

My Vein Treatment Can Help You Find a Vein Specialist in Your Area

Both laser therapy and sclerotherapy have their advantages and disadvantages. Laser treatment is an effective option for spider veins, but sclerotherapy is still the gold standard because it treats the entire vein system, not just the visible veins. It’s also less painful than laser treatment, though both require multiple visits. 

If you think you have spider veins and would like a consultation to know which treatment will suit you the best, My Vein Treatment can help you locate a specialist in your area

SOURCES:

  1. Medical News Today: ” Spider Veins: Causes, treatment, and prevention.”
  2. Harvard Health Publishing: ” Spider Veins.”
  3. Circulation: “ Varicose Veins.”
  4. StatPearls [Internet]: ” Spider Veins.”

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