May 6

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Sclerotherapy vs Laser for Spider Vein Treatment

By Dr. Jose Almeida

May 6, 2019


What are spider veins?

Spider veins are thought, by many, to be the same as varicose veins, but they are in fact different.

Here are some important things to know:

  • Spider veins are also superficial veins that can be seen on the skin, but are much smaller veins, called capillaries.
  • Most of the time, spider veins are only of concern due to their appearance on the skin, but some people may experience swelling or pain after standing for long periods. 
  • Spider veins are most commonly found on the face and on the legs but can be found anywhere on the body.
  • Even though spider veins are minimally dangerous, most people are bothered by their appearance.

"Now let's discuss which treatment option is best for you, sclerotherapy vs laser."

Treatment options for spider veins include laser therapy and sclerotherapy. 

Sclerotherapy for spider veins: This procedure involves the use of a specialized chemical, usually the composition of a soap. That is injected directly into the veins, causing a series of events that begins with the lining of the vessel becoming irritated that prompts the vessel to scar. After the vessel no longer functions, due to the scarring, the body then absorbs the vessel and therefore it is no longer visible on the skin.

Laser Therapy for spider veins: This procedure uses either a laser or light on the skin, just over the area of the varicose vein. The heat from the light or laser stops blood flow within the vein, causing the blood to clot. This then causes the vein to scar, allowing for the body to reabsorb the spider vein, so they are no longer visible.

The similarities between both procedures is that they are readily available as treatment options, both are minimally invasive, and both are performed in the clinic setting, usually taking less than 1 hour.

What are other advantages of each procedure?

Sclerotherapy advantages:

    • This procedure is better at treating larger spider veins and spider veins that may be deeper within the skin.

    • The success rate is much higher, with most only needing 3-4 sessions for removal of spider veins.

    • Pain is much less than compared to laser therapy.

Laser Therapy advantages:

    • This procedure is better to treat spider veins that are found on the face or any veins that are small, as there is no requirement for needle size for use in the small veins.

    • For those that have an aversion to needles, this may be a better suited procedure.

    • For those that may have allergies or sensitivities to the chemicals used in sclerotherapy, are better suited for this procedure.

So which should you choose, Sclerotherapy or Laser?

Based on all the information and data available regarding both procedures, sclerotherapy is the preferred treatment for the treatment of spider veins

Over both procedures being used over the last 2 decades, sclerotherapy is less painful and is less likely to cause pigmentation issues, especially with those that have darker skin tones.

What to do if you experience spider veins

Contact Dr. Jose Almeida is a board certified vascular surgeon, at the Miami Vein Center and a leading expert in the care of spider veins.

Dr. Jose Almeida

About the author

Dr. Jose Almeida, MD, FACS, RPVI, RVT is a veteran academic vascular surgeon who practices Endovascular Venous Surgery in Miami, FL. He is also a Diplomate of the American Board of Surgery in both Vascular Surgery and General Surgery.

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