Spider veins are like varicose veins, only smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. Often red or blue, they can look like tree branches or spider webs. Found on the legs and face, they can cover either a very small or very large area of skin. There are two successful treatments for unsightly spider vein removal: laser treatment and sclerotherapy.
Laser treatment is a safe, effective and relatively painless way to remove irritating spider veins. The laser’s energy penetrates to the blood vessel, where it elevates the temperature of the blood in the targeted vein to the point where it coagulates and clots, sealing off the vein without damage to the skin. It is eventually absorbed by the surrounding tissue.
Sclerotherapy is a non-laser procedure where a solution is injected directly into the vein, causing it to collapse and fade from view. The most commonly treated area is the legs, but the procedure can be applied to other parts of the body.
Depending on the size of the veins involved, these two treatments can be done in combination.
- What areas can be treated?
Both these procedures are most commonly performed on the legs, but all areas of the body can be treated.
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With laser, most patients report some discomfort, some experience a mild stinging sensation when the laser pulse is delivered, similar to being snapped by a rubber band. Because the laser energy is absorbed by melanin, or pigment, in the skin, as well as hemoglobin in the blood vessel, there is a sensation of warmth. Our SmartCool system is used for your comfort, to reduce heat, and promote the healing process.
With sclerotherapy, we use FDA-approved ASCLERA, which actually acts as a local anesthetic. It is therefore much less painful than other agents—the only effect felt during injection is a hot or tingling sensation. This is usually so well tolerated that no topical anesthetic is needed.
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Laser treatment time should be 15 to 30 minutes, but may vary depending on the number and size of the vessels to be treated.
Injection spot treatment of one area may only take a few minutes; larger or more involved areas will take longer.
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In many laser cases, significant improvement is realized in as few as 1 to 3 treatments. In some cases other spider veins may appear, so additional treatments may be necessary. Treatments are at 8-week intervals.
With sclerotherapy, excellent results are often obtained after a single session, but additional sessions may be required. Sclerotherapy is often combined with laser treatment of veins for optimum results.
- Is it safe?
Complications are rare with either treatment; permanent skin lightning or darkening may occur in less than 1% of cases. To reduce this possibility, it is advisable to wear sunblock during the month following treatment.
If you are pregnant or nursing, you are not a candidate for sclerotherapy.
- What results can I expect?
The treated vessels will gradually fade. Some results are immediate, and some vessels may take weeks or even several months to fade away completely. Multiple treatments may be necessary to obtain a satisfactory response for some leg veins.
- Are there any side effects?
Side effects for both procedures are minimal are generally limited to a slight redness of the skin, which should not persist for more than a few hours. Sometimes there is bruising or darkening of the vessel from areas of accumulated blood, but this generally fades over a few weeks. If any of these areas are persistently lumpy or painful, they can be removed a week later. An occasional side effect is matting: the appearance of extremely fine, superficial vessels. These generally fade over a few months; if not, they usually respond to an additional treatment.
- Is it permanent?
Yes. Both lasered or collapsed vessels should not re-appear. But since new vessels in the area may develop as you get older, we use photo-documentation to monitor treatment effectiveness. Any new vessels may also be treated.
- What about post-procedure?
Immediately after a sclerotherapy procedure on your legs you will need to walk for 15 to 20 minutes, and do this daily for the next few days. A pressure dressing will be required if larger vessels are treated. It may be changed, but it should be kept on for 48 hours. Because pressure on the vessels is important to ensure they stay closed during the healing process, medical grade support hose should be worn during the day for an additional week. We will provide you with custom-fitted medical grade hose, which are more durable and provide more overall compression than those available at a retail store or pharmacy.
Support hose are usually not needed after laser treatment, but wearing them won’t harm the healing process.
Although we encourage you to resume normal activities almost immediately, we do ask that you refrain from heavy exercise, sunbathing, long plane flights, hot baths or sauna for at least 24 hours after laser treatment and two to three days after sclerotherapy. You should avoid direct sun exposure after treatment and if you do go in the sun, protect the treated area with a minimum SPF 30 sunblock.
You can re-apply make-up immediately after either procedure. Our line of glo-minerals cosmetics will complement the effect of your treatment.