COVID-19 UPDATE: As of May 11, 2020, we have re-opened our office to regular in-person appointments. We are operating at a lower-than-normal capacity in order to respect social distancing advisories and best protect the health of our patients. We are still offering telemedicine as an option. For more information please call us at (314) 996-8800.



Broken and visible capillaries can appear as fine webs of dark lines on the nose, cheeks, and other areas of the face, as well as the legs. Some people feel self-conscious about the way these unwanted spider veins look on their skin. For anyone who wants to address the cosmetic problem, the experienced practitioners at West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University offer laser vein treatment to patients in St. Louis and surrounding areas.

If you have questions about laser vein treatment or would like to book a consultation with one of the surgeons at St. Louis' West County Plastic Surgeons of Washington University, please call (314) 996-8800.


Laser vein treatment is one of the most commonly used techniques for the long-term correction of vein irregularities that show up on the skin. During laser vein treatment, a focused beam of strong light is used to treat spider veins and reddened areas of the skin on the legs, body, and face. For larger leg veins, we can set up consultations with our cosmetic vascular surgeons to perform sclerotherapy or radiofrequency techniques. A long-pulsed Nd:YAG (1064 nm) laser is typically used. We use Cynosure®'s Elite+ Nd:Yag Laser. Learn more here.

Click here to view a video on laser vein treatment.

Anesthesia: None

Length of procedure: 15 to 30 minutes. May require 3 to 6 treatments depending on skin and hair color.

Estimated recovery time: Immediate

Dr. Terry Myckatyn, MD and Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum, MD

Dr. Terry Myckatyn and
Dr. Marissa Tenenbaum:

Trusted. Experienced. Committed.


Laser vein treatment is considered by many to be the gold standard for improving the appearance of visible veins. Spider veins and varicose veins are two forms of venous insufficiency, a problem with the flow of blood back to the heart.

Varicose veins are large, bulging, superficial veins that appear most commonly on the legs and are visible just under the skin's surface. These palpable, swollen vessels often cause discomfort or aching and may indicate more severe health issues.

Spider veins, which are often referred to as thread veins, are thinner and not prone to bulging out from the skin. Clusters of spider veins are a typical cosmetic concern that are usually caused when blood vessels in the face burst due to increased pressure or sun damage. They may be red, blue, or purple in color and can be located anywhere on the body, but most commonly appear as marks on the face and legs, just beneath the skin’s surface. These unsightly capillaries form a twisting, web-like network, hence their name.

Spider veins and varicose veins can develop at any age and plague men and women alike, though they tend to occur more frequently on women and older people. Some of the most common factors that increase the likelihood of stretched or broken vessels are prolonged standing, a sedentary lifestyle, sun exposure, genetics, alcohol consumption, and changes in weather and pressure.


Laser vein treatment is one of the most effective techniques for treating damaged and weakened veins. Some people are bothered by the appearance of these veins and seek cosmetic methods to reduce them.

You'll likely be able to identify broken capillaries on your own, but anyone concerned about the look of visible vessels or experiencing discomfort may wish to seek advice from a doctor. During a consultation for laser vein treatment, physicians typically take note of your medical history, examine the face or body, and confirm and officially diagnose these conditions.

In order to get the best possible outcome from laser vein treatment, there are steps you can take to maximize its effectiveness. Potential patients are urged to avoid tanning or using artificial tanning lotions in the two to three weeks leading up to the scheduled laser vein treatment, as the laser works best on light-colored complexions. Doctors recommend that you avoid sun exposure, alcohol, or smoking before having laser vein treatment.

Patients are also advised to shave on the day of or morning prior to a laser vein treatment, as hair can absorb some of the laser energy and increase the risk of laser burns. Removing makeup from the site targeted for laser vein treatment is important, as cosmetics can also absorb some of the laser energy and cause burning or irritation.


Laser vein treatment has been used as a technique for minimizing or collapsing poorly functioning facial veins for more than two decades. The light-based treatment is a minimally invasive procedure that does not involve anesthesia, incisions, or needles. It does not cause damage to the skin surrounding the treatment site.

The Cynosure® Elite+ dual wavelength system, used at West County Plastic Surgeons, is equipped with multiple wavelengths and pulse durations, which allow for highly flexible treatments that are customized to target specific skin types, spot sizes, and conditions. The Cynosure® device also increases patient comfort with air cooling between different treatments taking place within the same laser vein treatment session.

During the laser vein treatment session, laser light is directed at the vein to obliterate it. The heat from the laser causes damages to the vascular lesion, which leads to inflammation and promotes the creation of scar tissue. Smaller varicose veins are closed off after they are zapped by high-intensity light bursts and may eventually die and disappear after their source of blood has been taken away.

Laser vein treatment can provide an 80 to 90 percent improvement for facial veins. The treatment itself is usually short, lasting between five to 30 minutes. It is also virtually painless; some patients describe the sensation as similar to that of a rubber band snapping against their skin. Some patients may need three to six treatments to achieve ideal results, depending on their hair and skin color.


Initial results from laser vein treatment appear soon after a session, though larger veins may take a few months to fade completely. The improvements will continue over the following four to six weeks. Some patients experience minor discomfort, the formation of blisters, or temporary discoloration in the treatment area. Some patients may feel it necessary to schedule multiple treatments in order to achieve their desired cosmetic goals or to eliminate any new veins that may emerge in the future.

Before & After

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*Results may vary.

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Aside from laser vein treatment, there are a number of other cosmetic methods for addressing this common skincare concern. Unlike laser vein treatment, intense pulsed light (IPL) is a form of light therapy that emits scattered light at multiple wavelengths, similar to a photoflash. This allows it to penetrate the second layer of skin without damaging the surface layer. IPL damages the walls of unwanted veins, causing them to constrict and disappear.

Sclerotherapy is an injection-based alternative to laser vein treatment. This is the preferred technique for removing swollen varicose veins in the legs. Doctors inject a solution directly into the vessels to close them and prevent blood flow, then apply compression and massage the area. The sclerosing agent causes the vessels to collapse.

If you have questions or would like to book a consultation with one of the surgeons at West County Plastic Surgery, please call (314) 996-8800.

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