Lasers can reduce the appearance of small spider veins by heating and destroying the troublesome vessels that crawl under your skin. The laser light targets and heats veins, causing them to clot and fade.
What It's Good For
Different types of spider veins respond better to different lasers, so your doctor will need to identify the best kind for your spider vein and skin. For deeper vessels found in the legs, the Nd:YAG laser, with a wavelength of 1064 nm, is most commonly used. The 940 nm diode laser is another option, used most often for spider veins on the torso.
Spider veins that appear on the chest or hands tend to be closer to the skin's surface and redder in color. Red-colored veins can be treated with lasers that fall in the 500 - 600 nanometer range. Pulsed dye lasers (PDL; 585 nm) and long pulsed dye lasers (595 nm) have been used to reduce these reddish spider veins on the face, neck, and chest but are less effective on your body and legs. A popular pulsed dye device is the Candela Vbeam, which also sprays cool air along with the hot bursts of light to prevent your skin from burning.
The potassium titanyl phosphate laser (KTP; 532 nm) operates at the lowest wavelength, reaching only spider veins very close to the skin surface. This laser is readily absorbed by your skin's melanin (cells that give your skin color), so if you have a dark or tanned complexion, you should stay away from the KTP.
Intense pulsed light (IPL/BBL) devices are large flashlamp devices and are very effective for small spider veins, especially those found on the face.
Who it works for: Lasers can destroy spider veins that measure less than three millimeters in diameter (1/10th of an inch). If your veins are larger, opt for a different removal method.
Often practitioners use lasers for treating facial veins but prefer sclerotherapy for leg veins. Also, lasers are often used after sclerotherapy for matting (very fine networks of veins too small to inject) or for isolated leftover areas.
Recommended age range: There is no recommended age range for the laser removal of spider veins, but the condition is commonly found in women above the age of 30.
When will I see results?: Though lasers probably won't remove your spider veins in one sitting, two to five sessions spaced about three months apart may clear them up. Skin may look bruised or darker than its natural tone for one to two weeks if spider veins were lasered from your face, three to four weeks if the legs were treated.
How long it lasts: On the plus side, lasers can remove spider veins permanently. What lasers can't do is prevent new spider veins from growing.
Key benefits of laser spider vein removal: Lasers can reduce spider veins by 30 to 80 percent with each treatment depending upon the location of the veins and their color. Leg veins are harder to treat than facial veins with a laser.
Licensed uses: Each laser device is approved for a specific skin type and spider vein. Make sure the device your physician plans on using is approved by the FDA for your condition and complexion.