Light therapy is often touted as a cure for spider veins. But do these treatments actually work?
Although spider veins sometimes cause symptoms such as itching and swelling, those tangled webs of thin red and blue lines are largely seen as a cosmetic issue. As a result, we often hear about people turning to the Internet or medspas to cure their spider veins.
Home- or spa-based cures include blue light therapy, laser light therapy, or intense pulsed light (IPL) therapy. As the names suggest, these treatments involve a light or laser passed over the skin to supposedly eliminate the appearance of spider veins. But do these therapies work? A vein specialist at Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) can discuss why light therapy is not a solution and why the proven medical techniques offered at CVR are the only way to permanently eliminate spider veins.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins often appear on the upper thigh, below the knee, around the ankles, or on the face. Spider veins are thin, flat, and typically between 0.5 to 1 millimeter in diameter. Like varicose veins, spider veins develop when valves in the veins weaken, causing blood to pool and push the vein outward.
Women, older adults, and those who are overweight or have a family history of varicose and spider veins share a high risk of developing spider veins. Sun exposure, injury, certain medical conditions, and sitting or standing for long periods can also exacerbate the appearance of spider veins.
So how do you get rid of spider veins?
If you’re considering spider vein treatment, a home-based or medspa light therapy may seem like a cheaper and quicker alternative than treatment by a certified vein specialist. Blue light therapy, laser light therapy, and IPL therapy all claim to shrink spider veins with an intense beam of light or laser. These unproven techniques may or may not briefly reduce the appearance of spider veins. However, the problem veins will reappear, because these light therapies do not address the underlying cause of spider veins.
Instead, speak with a CVR vein specialist about the following two types of sclerotherapy that offer permanent solutions:
Ultrasound-Guided Foam Sclerotherapy. The vein specialist will use ultrasonography to guide a needle into the damaged vein. A foam sclerosant is injected into the vein to irritate and close the vein. The vein is then absorbed into the body as blood diverts to healthier veins.
Visual Sclerotherapy. This procedure is similar to ultrasound-guided foam sclerotherapy. But rather than using ultrasonography, the vein specialist will “visually” insert the needle to inject the sclerosant.
Both methods are virtually painless, with no anesthesia required. During each of the procedures, which takes approximately 30 minutes, you may experience some minor cramping and stinging from the needle. After removing the needle, the vein specialist will gently compress the area to ensure blood doesn’t flow into the treated vein.
With few restrictions, you can return to your normal activities almost immediately after the procedures. Your doctor may advise you to wear compression stockings for several days to encourage blood flow.
So sclerotherapy is better than light therapy?
The answer is a resounding yes! It may take more than one session of sclerotherapy to eliminate all spider veins, but the effort is worth it. Light treatments at a medspa or home may take as many sessions. However, they won’t guarantee the same success rate as a professional treatment performed at an accredited vein facility like CVR.
Also, keep in mind that medspa treatments or home treatment kits can be expensive. Most spider vein treatments are considered cosmetic and may not be covered by insurance. CVR will work with you to establish affordable payment plans.
CVR in Massachusetts can treat your spider veins
Center for Vein Restoration has a location in Framingham, Massachusetts, led by Pamela Kim, MD, RPVI. A board-certified Vascular Surgeon with additional certification in General Surgery and Vascular Interpretation, Dr. Kim has extensive experience in treating varicose and spider veins as well as other vascular disorders. Contact her today for a consultation!
463 Worcester Road
Framingham, MA 01701