Treating Spider Veins Vs Treating Varicose Veins

December 16, 2021
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December 16, 2021 The Vein Institute

Although varicose veins and spider veins are both caused by Chronic Venous Insufficiency (See: Varicose Veins Explained), their treatment is very different. Below we break down treating spider veins vs treating varicose veins, and the best option for each.

The treatment of veins has advanced over the last decade, with Australia’s leading vein specialists using a laser to treat both spider veins and varicose veins. Although both options use a laser, how are each of the treatments different? In short, a simple laser is used to treat spider veins which are on the surface of the leg whilst endovenous lasers are a more invasive medical procedure that involves inserting a catheter into the vein then delivering a source of heat, closing off the vein and stopping the flow of blood.

There are a few laser treatments that your vein specialist will recommend, depending on the type and severity of your damage.

While sclerotherapy has long been considered the gold standard treatment for small leg veins, new technology allows a targeted beam of laser to destroy small veins from on top of the skin, this is a cosmetic treatment. To treat larger varicose veins, specialists will likely recommend endovenous lasers which are a medical procedure. If there are multiple types of damaged veins, doctors will use a combination of sclerotherapy and endovenous lasers.

What is the difference between spider veins and varicose veins?

Spider veins can be red, purple, or blue and appear in the form of thin lines, webs, or branches. These veins are usually small, thin lines that may be flat or only slightly raised.

Varicose veins are swollen twisted veins which often cause pain and discomfort. They appear as bumps on the skin and are generally dark blue or purple.

Unsure which type of vein condition you have? Try our Vein Self-Assessment Tool

spider veins

What is a simple laser and how is it used for treating spider veins?

A number of lasers can be used (including NdYag and IPL’s) by your cosmetic physician or dermatologist on the outside of your skin.

Usually, only spider veins and reticular veins can be treated as they are just under the skin surface.

The laser selectively targets these small veins and damages them before they are absorbed by the body. Many sessions are usually required with a 6 -12-week interval between them. If there is a larger “feeder” vein this must be treated first with endovenous laser ablation or radiofrequency ablation.

Endovenous laser and treating varicose veins

Endovenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) treats larger varicose veins in the legs. The method involves bypassing a laser fibre into the vein and sealing it from the inside out.

This medical procedure is extremely effective and performed using an ultrasound machine so the doctor can precisely monitor the treatment. Only one treatment for the vein is required and it is performed under local anesthesia with minimal discomfort.

Differences Between the Two Types of Laser:

Endovenous Laser Ablation Simple Laser
Vein Type Varicose Veins Reticular Veins or
Spider Veins
Session Types Single Multiple
Procedure Type Medical Cosmetic
Recovery Compression Stockings
5 days
Price $$$$$ (Thousands) $$ (Hundreds)
Effectiveness +++++ ++

Treating spider veins vs treating varicose veins

Sclerotherapy is used by doctors in a weak form as a liquid or an agitated form (after being mixed with air) as a strong form of medicine. The word ‘sclero’ derives from Greek origins meaning to harden i.e. the treatment hardens veins after which they are absorbed by the body and disappear. Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (UGS) is an excellent treatment for varicose veins however, unlike other treatments you are likely to need more than one session of sclerotherapy when it is used alone. In general, most people will require two to three sessions of sclerotherapy for a good result. During this time lots of walking is required in addition to compression stockings being warned.

Why don’t all doctors use simple lasers?

Using a simple laser for spider veins and reticular veins is generally not as effective as sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy will treat both the spider vein and it’s “feeder” vein. Additionally, the costs of lasers can be quite high as multiple sessions are required.

Should I have an ultrasound before laser treatment?

Most doctors will recommend having an ultrasound to ensure that there are no underlying varicose veins that would require treatment. Treating spider veins before varicose veins is usually ineffective and temporary.

Seek expert advice

The doctors at The Vein Institute specialise in varicose vein treatment. We offer patients a comprehensive treatment program to treat varicose veins, with non-surgical laser treatment techniques. The benefits of laser treatment to patients are;

  • Walk-in walk-out treatment
  • 98% success rate
  • Extremely effective
  • Can be performed at a clinic (no hospitalisation)
  • No general anaesthetic
  • Medicare rebates apply
  • No downtime or time away from work

To book a consultation and discuss our treatment program, call 1300 981 402

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