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
Laser therapy or radiofrequency
- Energy from the laser or radiofrequency device closes the
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
Signs of Aging Treated
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 on the calf of a
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
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
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.
10 Questions to Ask Before a Cosmetic Procedure
Spider Vein, Varicose Vein Therapy (AAD pamphlet)
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.
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.
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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