The Vein Game: Sclerotherapy vs Laser Vein Removal

by Edie Pastis

When we think about common setbacks to a great complexion, most of us immediately cite acne, wrinkles, and sun damage as the culprits. However, many adults also contend with the prominent appearance of spider and varicose veins beneath the skin's surface. These veins can be unsightly, annoying, and in the case of severe varicose, quite painful. Two popular procedures for treating the appearance of spider veins and varicose veins are sclerotherapy and laser vein removal. But is one better than the other?

Vein Variables

Varicose veins, the more prominent of the two, typically appear in the legs of older adults after their veins lose some of their elasticity and can't circulate blood as quickly as before. These veins are larger than spider veins and often protrude from the skin's surface in twisted patterns of blue or dark purple. Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but their appearance is much less pronounced, and it's common for them to occur in the face as well as in the legs. Facial veins are often linked to sun damage and rosacea, whereas spider veins in the legs can result from hormonal changes. Fortunately, non-surgical procedures sclerotherapy and laser vein removal can treat both varicose and spider veins. Plus, they're both relatively fast, safe procedures. But how do they work, and what's the difference?

Sclerotherapy: The Injectable Solution

Sclerotherapy eliminates the appearance of spider veins and mild varicose veins by injecting a saline solution called sclerosant into the affected area. The injection seals the faulty vein off and allows the blood flow to naturally redistribute to other healthy veins. Sclerotherapy vein treatments usually last about 30 minutes, depending on the size of the treatment area, and most patients see the best results after 3-4 treatment sessions. What's fueled the popularity of this procedure is that final results are permanent, not to mention relatively painless. Another bonus is that no recovery time is needed, although patients are asked to wear a compression stocking on the treated area briefly following the procedure.

Laser Vein Removal: The “Hot” Alternative

Laser vein removal is a non-invasive treatment method for spider and facial veins, but is typically not as effective on varicose veins. Laser vein removal uses the focused light energy of laser technology to deteriorate the delicate vessel lining of the veins as the laser's heat is absorbed by hemoglobin in the blood. Laser vein removal treatments also take about 30 minutes apiece, and can require a series of sessions to achieve the best results. Laser vein removal can't ensure that some veins won't regenerate, but they can successfully eliminate the appearance of spider and facial veins for a length of time. Like sclerotherapy, laser vein removal requires no recovery time, and reportedly involves little to no pain or discomfort. For patients who are wanting to treat varicose veins and are loyal fans of laser treatments, there's now an option called Endovenous Laser Treatment (ELT). ELT targets varicose veins by inserting a tiny laser device below the skin's surface to target affected areas.

So, to compare, both sclerotherapy and laser vein removal are fast, low-risk vein treatments, but there are differences in terms of treatment permanence and methodology. Patients wanting to treat severe cases of varicose veins may be better helped by sclerotherapy as opposed to laser vein removal. For both sclerotherapy and laser vein removal, consultations and procedures should always be performed by a trusted, experienced physician or vein removal specialist to ensure your treatment is both appropriate and safe.

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Bella Rosa Medspa

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