Coronavirus (COVID-19) Visitor Policy & Advisory: Adventist HealthCare is taking appropriate steps to protect the safety of our patients, caregivers and community. Learn More
Emergency Room Wait Times
Home > Healthy Living > Health Library > Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins
A laser is a highly focused beam of light. A doctor can use a laser to treat varicose veins. Laser heat damages a vein, which makes scar tissue form. This scar tissue closes the vein. A closed vein loses its source of blood and dies. After a year or two, the vein is likely to disappear.
Simple laser treatment. Simple laser vein treatment is done on the outside of your skin. It can treat spider veins and tiny varicose veins just under the skin's surface. Usually, more than one laser session is needed. They are scheduled every 6 to 12 weeks, as prescribed by your doctor. (If you have poor blood circulation feeding these tiny veins, the larger "feeder" vein must first be treated with surgery, endovenous laser or radiofrequency treatment, or sclerotherapy.)
Endovenous laser treatment. Endovenous laser treatment can treat larger varicose veins in the legs. A laser fiber is passed through a thin tube (catheter) into the vein. While doing this, the doctor watches the vein on a duplex ultrasound screen. Laser is less painful than vein ligation and stripping, and it has a shorter recovery time. Only local anesthesia or a light sedative is needed for laser treatment. (For ligation and stripping, general anesthesia is used to put you to sleep.)
You will be able to walk following the treatment, and recovery typically is short. You are likely to be able to return to your normal daily routine after simple laser treatment.
After endovenous laser treatment, you will wear compression stockings for 1 week or more. To follow up, your doctor will use duplex ultrasound to make sure that the vein is closed.footnote 1
Simple laser treatment is done for small spider veins and tiny varicose veins. This is sometimes a second treatment step, after a larger varicose vein has been treated with surgery, endovenous laser or radiofrequency treatment, or sclerotherapy.
Endovenous laser treatment is used to close off a larger varicose vein, instead of using surgery to remove it.
Simple laser treatment. Over the past 20 years, this type of laser treatment has become quite safe and effective.
Endovenous laser treatment. Endovenous laser treatment closes veins about 94 out of 100 times. It doesn't work about 6 out of 100 times.footnote 2
If endovenous laser treatment does not close a vein, you will need a second treatment. Depending on what is available in your area, you may have choices between another laser treatment, radiofrequency treatment, or sclerotherapy. In some cases, vein surgery is recommended.
For the best chance of success, be sure to have a doctor with a lot of endovenous laser experience.
Side effects of laser treatment include:
The more experience your doctor has had with laser, the less risk you are likely to have. Talk to your doctor about how often these side effects happen in his or her practice.
If you are thinking of laser treatment, consider some questions to ask about varicose vein treatment. These questions include: How much do the exam and treatment cost? How many treatments does the doctor think you will need?
For help deciding whether to have a procedure for varicose veins, see:
Khilnani NM, et al. (2010). Multi-society consensus quality improvement guidelines for the treatment of lower extremity superficial venous insufficiency with endovenous thermal ablation from the Society of Interventional Radiology, Cardiovascular Interventional Radiological Society of Europe, American College of Phlebology, and Canadian Interventional Radiology Association. Journal of Vascular and Interventional Radiology, 21(1): 14–31.
Van den Bos R, et al. (2009). Endovenous therapies of lower extremity varicosities: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vascular Surgery, 49(1): 230–239.
Current as of:
March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise StaffMedical Review: E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal MedicineAdam Husney MD - Family MedicineDavid A. Szalay MD - Vascular Surgery
Current as of: March 4, 2020
Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine & Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine & David A. Szalay MD - Vascular Surgery
To learn more about Healthwise, visit Healthwise.org.
© 1995-2020 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this website, and its associated websites, is provided as a benefit to the local community, and the Internet community in general; it does not constitute medical advice. We try to provide quality information, but we make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this website and its associated sites. As medical advice must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each patient and healthcare is constantly changing, nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of a competent physician. Furthermore, in providing this service, Adventist HealthCare does not condone or support all of the content covered in this site. As an Adventist health care organization, Adventist HealthCare acts in accordance with the ethical and religious directives for Adventist health care services.
Find an Adventist HealthCare affiliated doctor by calling our FREE physician referral service at 800-642-0101 or by searching our online physician directory.
Set Your Location
Setting your location helps us to show you nearby providers and locations based on your healthcare needs.