Cosmetic Procedures
Vein Treatments

Dermatologists use the following procedures to treat spider and varicose veins:

  • Sclerotherapy - A solution that seals off the vein is injected with a very fine needle.

  • Ambulatory phlebectomy - The vein is surgically removed one small section at a time via micro-incisions.

  • Laser therapy or radiofrequency - Energy from the laser or radiofrequency device closes the vein.

All of these procedures can be performed in a dermatologist’s office. After undergoing any of these procedures, the patient can walk out of the office. Most people resume their normal activities the next day. All procedures have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for vein treatment.

Signs of Aging Treated

  • Spider veins

  • Varicose veins

What Happens During Vein Treatment?
If you are considering a vein treatment and want to know what would
happen if you underwent one of these procedures, visit Vein Treatments:
What to Expect Before, During, and After

When See Results from Vein Treatment
Results are not immediate with any of these procedures. Your dermatologist can tell you when you can expect to see results. It also is important to know that most patients require 2 to 4 sclerotherapy sessions to see desirable results and several laser treatments to eliminate spider veins in the legs.

Effectiveness of Vein Treatments
All of these procedures have proven highly effective. It is important to know that the success of any cosmetic procedure is highly dependent on the skill of the physician. Make sure that the physician is a board-certified dermatologist or other appropriately trained surgeon with extensive experience performing the procedure.

Spider veins before treatment

Woman's calf after sclerotherapy

Spider veins on the calf of a 46-year-old woman.

The woman’s calf at 18 months, after 2 sclerotherapy treatments.

(Photos used with permission of the American Academy of Dermatology National Library of Dermatologic Teaching Slides)

Potential Side Effects
These vary with the type of procedure performed:

Sclerotherapy – Pain, swelling, and raised bumps on the skin are common after the procedure. These will fade within a few days. It also is possible to see dark spots on the skin and tiny new spider veins where the solution was injected. Be sure to tell your dermatologist if these appear or you notice any other signs or symptoms.

Ambulatory phlebectomy - Some patients feel slight burning afterward. For a few days some patients have swelling, pain, bruising, slight bleeding, or blistering. Temporary darkening of the skin is possible and usually fades in a few months.

Laser therapy and radiofrequency – Bruising, tenderness, and light or dark spots on the skin are possible after the procedure. In rare cases, a burn, blistering, or scarring can occur.

How Long the Results Last
Once the vein has been completely destroyed or removed, it will not return. It is, however, possible for new spider or varicose veins to appear in the treated area. This is more likely in people who have a family history of these veins. Occasional maintenance treatments may be necessary if a person has this tendency and does not want to see spider or varicose veins.

Related Links
10 Questions to Ask Before a Cosmetic Procedure
Spider Vein, Varicose Vein Therapy (AAD pamphlet)

Also See
Beyond the Face: Cosmetic Dermatology Offers Treatment Options from Head to Toe

Goldman MP, Weiss RA, and Sadick NS. “Sclerotherapy and Ambulatory Phlebectomy.” In: Bolognia JL, Jorizzo JL, Rapini RP et al, editors. Dermatology. 2nd edition. Spain, Mosby Elsevier; 2008. p. 2329-43.

Weiss RA and Dover JS. “Leg Vein Management: Sclerotherapy, Ambulatory Phlebectomy, and Laser Surgery.” In: Kaminer MS, Dover JS, Arndt KA, editors. Atlas of Cosmetic Surgery. United States of America, W. B. Saunders Company; 2002. p. 407-31.

All content solely developed by the American Academy of Dermatology

Treating a spider or varicose vein does not harm your circulation. Blood is automatically re-routed to other veins without any ill effect.





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Page last updated 10/8/08

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