Is Sclerotherapy Less Painful Than Laser Therapy for Spider Vein Treatment?
Laser therapy and sclerotherapy are both treatments that are readily available to treat spider veins. Laser therapy has been around for several decades, while sclerotherapy is a newer treatment option. Both treatments are effective to remove spider veins, but it is important to know how they work and why laser therapy is generally considered to be more painful than sclerotherapy.
Laser therapy: A laser device is inserted into the spider veins, placed into the largest of the vein. As the laser is drawn slowly out of the vein, it emits heat, which destroys the inside of the vein. With the destruction to the vein, the vein begins to scar in an attempt to heal itself. Over time, this scar closes off the vein and blood is no longer able to flow. The body then resorbs this scarred, non-functional vein and the spider vein is no longer visible.
Sclerotherapy: A device is inserted into the spider veins, targeting the largest veins first and as the device is removed, a substance, called a sclerosant, is then placed within the vein. Like the heat from the laser, the sclerosant destroys the lining of the vein, the vein begins to scar, and with time the vein is no longer functional. Once the vein is no longer functional, the body then removes the vein and the spider vein disappears.
"The sclerosant placed in the vein causes little to no pain during treatment and is overall tolerated much better than laser therapy." - Dr. Edward Mackay
Video: About Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins
Learn about sclerotherapy treatments for spider veins.
Burning Sensation During Laser Therapy
As laser therapy applies heat directly in the vein to cause a scarring reaction, this heat is felt during treatment and most patients describe a burning or tingling sensation during treatment. The sclerosant placed in the vein causes little to no pain during treatment and is overall tolerated much better than laser therapy. If laser therapy is the chosen treatment, you may opt for use of a numbing cream or gel prior to the start of treatment, which can take the edge off of the burning sensation felt during treatment.
Video: The Causes of Spider Veins, Risk Factors & Ways to Reduce Risk
Post-Sclerotherapy Treatment and Care
Due to the nature of the both treatments causing destruction to the veins, they can cause post treatment swelling and discomfort, but there are ways to ease the pain.
Over the counter medications, such as tylenol or ibuprofen may be helpful for the first 1-2 days after treatment.
Compression garments apply pressure to reduce swelling and help treated areas to heal faster. It is best to use these for at least 1 week after treatment.
Avoidance of the sun, as exposure to sun after treated areas can increase swelling and pain. If avoidance of the sun is not possible, wearing sunscreen and covering the skin with clothing will help to protect the skin.
When making a decision about a procedure, pain is a common factor to take into account. Visit with a board certified vascular surgeon to discuss laser therapy and sclerotherapy to treat your unwanted spider veins.