General Health

Treating Varicose Veins: Sclerotherapy vs. Laser Vein Removal

If you have unsightly varicose veins on your legs that you’d like to get rid of, you’re probably wondering if you should get sclerotherapy or laser vein removal to treat them.  Sclerotherapy and laser therapy are both very good options for removing varicose veins and restoring clear, smooth skin, but choosing the right treatment is not always easy.

About Varicose Veins

Blood vessels make up the body’s venous system and are responsible for transporting blood to the heart.  However, the one-way valves on these blood vessels sometimes get damaged, causing the blood to pool inside the veins. When this happens, the veins become enlarged and twisted, which can result in varicose veins. (You may also be familiar with “spider veins” — which are similar to varicose veins, but smaller.)

Varicose veins are incredibly common in women, and are typically found in the lower extremities, particularly the legs and feet. Varicose veins are mostly harmless, but sometimes they can cause symptoms such as itching, aching, and swelling.

Above: Briefing about varicose veins from the Society for Vascular Surgery on YouTube


Sclerotherapy is considered the standard treatment for varicose and spider veins. It’s a minimally invasive procedure that is done by injecting a sclerosing agent into the troublesome vein.

The sclerosing solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to close. This stops the flow of blood, so the blood is redirected to healthy veins.   The vein is eventually reabsorbed by the body, and fades from view over time.

There is little discomfort with sclerotherapy so no anesthesia is required. It typically takes more than one treatment to alleviate varicose veins with sclerotherapy.

Above: ScleroTherapy from Laser Skin Care on Vimeo

What to expect

After treatment patients may experience some itching or burning at the site, but this normally goes away within a few days.

There is no downtime after sclerotherapy, but strenuous exercise and heavy lifting should be avoided for at least five days.

A compression garment is usually worn for about 7-10 days, to help with healing. Most patients notice a gradual decline in symptoms within the first week of treatment, but final results can take up to 12 weeks.

Laser vein removal

Laser vein removal is an effective way to significantly reduce the appearance of varicose veins, though multiple laser treatments are needed to achieve the desired results. Treatments take about 20 minutes to complete, but this may vary depending on the number of veins that need to be treated.

With laser therapy, the laser delivers light energy to the affected vein, and is absorbed by the hemoglobin in the blood vessel. The laser energy causes the blood within the blood vessel to clot and the vein shrinks as a result, and will disappear over time.

What to expect

The heat from the laser does not damage the surrounding tissue, skin, or blood vessels in any way. Laser vein removal is not generally painful, so no anesthesia is required.

There may be some mild redness or irritation after treatment, but this usually resolves within a day or two, but there is no downtime after treatment.

Should you get sclerotherapy or laser vein removal for your varicose veins?

The choice of treatment often depends on the location of the veins. Sclerotherapy is usually preferred for treating larger varicose veins, especially those on the legs, while laser therapy is recommended for thinner veins on other parts of the body. That being said, sometimes it may require a combination approach to get the best results.

Although sclerotherapy is considered the optimal treatment for varicose veins, there are times when your physician may decide to opt for laser therapy. For example, there are some people that are very afraid of needles, so sclerotherapy may simply not be an option for them.  In addition, there are some patients that may be allergic to the sclerosing solution that is used to carry out the procedure.

Ultimately, if you would like to have your varicose veins treated it’s best to talk to a dermatologist or vascular specialist with the requisite training and experience. They will carry out an examination and determine whether sclerotherapy or laser vein removal would be the right option for you.

For patients with varicose veins near Long Beach, CA

Contact Laser Skin Care Center Dermatology Associates in Long Beach, CA for more information about these treatments – call (562) 418-5251 or click here to schedule a consultation today.

Bryna Kane, MD
Dr. Bryna Kane has been practicing adult and pediatric dermatology for more than 30 years. She is the founding partner and co-owner of the Laser Skin Care Center Dermatology Associates in Long Beach, California.
Bryna Kane, MD
Bryna Kane, MD

Latest posts by Bryna Kane, MD (see all)

Bryna Kane, MD

Bryna Kane, MD

Dr. Bryna Kane has been practicing adult and pediatric dermatology for more than 30 years. She is the founding partner and co-owner of the Laser Skin Care Center Dermatology Associates in Long Beach, California.

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