I have spider veins on my legs. What options are available to remove them?

Answers from Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D.
Image of spider veins
Spider veins

Spider veins appear as thin, red lines or as web-like networks of blood vessels on the surface of the skin. Spider veins, a mild form of varicose veins, typically appear on the legs and feet.

Several options are available to remove spider veins — thin red lines or weblike networks of blood vessels that appear on your legs and feet.

Spider veins are usually harmless, though they can sometimes cause aching, burning or pain, especially when you've been standing for long periods.

If you have symptoms or are concerned about the appearance of spider veins, treatment options include:

  • Sclerotherapy. In this procedure, your doctor injects the veins with a solution that scars and closes those veins, causing the blood to reroute through healthier veins. In a few weeks, treated spider veins fade. Although the same vein may need to be injected more than once, sclerotherapy is usually effective if done correctly.

    Sclerotherapy doesn't require anesthesia and can be done in your doctor's office. Side effects include swelling, itching and skin color changes in the treated area.

  • Laser surgery. Laser surgery works by sending strong bursts of light into the vein that make the vein slowly fade and disappear. No incisions or needles are used.

    The treatment is often less effective than sclerotherapy, particularly for larger veins. Side effects may include redness, bruising, itching, swelling and permanent skin tone changes.

After treatment, blood vessels fade over several months, but they may not disappear completely. Also, new spider veins can develop in the same area.

Oct. 23, 2014 See more Expert Answers