Treating Spider Veins Vs Treating Varicose Veins

December 16, 2019
December 16, 2019 Dr Zil

Although varicose veins and spider veins are both caused due to 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 options for each.

In short, simple lasers are used to treat spider veins on the surface of your leg, whilst endovenous lasers are a more invasive medical procedure which involves feeding a laser into a large varicose veins.

Treatment of veins has advanced over the last decade, the treatments offered by Australia’s leading vein specialists are using a laser to treat both spider veins and varicose veins. So how are each of the laser treatments different?

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

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.

Simple Laser Treatment (Outside the Body)

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 only be treated, which 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 Treatment (Inside the Body)

Endovenous laser treatment treats larger varicose veins in the legs. The method of treatment is bypassing a laser fibre into the vein and sealing the vein from the inside out. This medical procedure is extremely effective and performed using an ultrasound machine so that the doctor can precisely monitor the treatment. Only one treatment for the vein is required and it is performed under local anaesthesia 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
None
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 Some Doctors Use Simple Lasers?

Using simple lasers 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 which 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