Intense pulsed light (IPL) can reduce the appearance of spider veins on the face and body.

IPL treatments are often used to reduce the appearance of spider veins, which are visible clusters of small, weblike capillaries that are close to the skin’s surface.

Spider veins aren’t dangerous and don’t lead to health issues, but some people may want to remove them for aesthetic reasons.

There are many treatment options for spider veins, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. If you want to reduce the appearance of your spider veins, IPL might be a good treatment option.

Also known as telangiectasia or thread veins, spider veins are clusters of tiny, visible veins that are close to the skin’s surface. They often resemble spiderwebs.

Although people often use the terms “spider veins” and “varicose veins” interchangeably, people typically use “spider veins” to refer to smaller clusters of veins, while varicose veins can be larger and ropelike.

Both spider veins and varicose veins usually appear on your legs. Spider veins are especially common on the ankles, but they can also appear on your face.

Spider veins seem to develop when your veins aren’t working as they should. Your veins usually have valves, which ensure that blood only flows one way through the blood vessels. But if these valves aren’t working, blood may flow in the wrong direction.

As a result, blood gets stuck in the veins. This blood builds up over time, and the pressure causes the vein to grow larger. This results in spider veins.

But what causes the valves to falter? It’s not always clear, but swelling seems to cause spider veins to form in some people. This is why spider veins often develop in the ankles during pregnancy.

Research suggests that spider veins are generally more common in women, although anybody can get them. A genetic component may play a role in the development of spider veins.

Yes, IPL can be used to reduce the appearance of spider veins on the body and face.

IPL is similar to laser treatment. The key difference is that a laser uses one wavelength of light, while IPL uses light of many different wavelengths. IPL can also be used to reduce unwanted hair, wrinkles, age spots, and rosacea.

Is IPL a good option for spider veins?

Yes. IPL is a noninvasive treatment that can be effective at reducing the appearance of spider veins.

IPL has many advantages. It can start reducing the appearance of spider veins in as little as one session, although more pronounced spider veins will only disappear after six or more IPL sessions. IPL sessions are quick and you don’t need recovery time in between, making them convenient.

Compared with sclerotherapy, another common treatment for spider veins in which a healthcare professional injects medication into the veins to help seal them, IPL may be more suitable for:

However, there are some disadvantages to using IPL for spider veins. For example, aestheticians say that it may be less effective for people with darker skin tones, as it may cause visible scarring.

IPL treatments involve targeting a beam of light at the skin. This light penetrates the skin to the dermis layer. Unlike laser treatments, IPL uses multiple light wavelengths. It can be used to treat a number of aesthetic concerns, including sun damage, sun spots, and uneven skin texture.

When used to treat spider veins, IPL targets the red or purple pigment of the blood vessels. It directs heat at the blood vessels, effectively destroying them. The collapsed vessels are absorbed back into the body.

During an IPL session, a technician will use a handheld device. You may need to wear goggles to protect your eyes.

IPL treatments take 10 to 20 minutes. You can resume regular activities, such as returning to work or exercising, on the same day.

Depending on your pain threshold, the sessions may be a little uncomfortable or painful. Some people find it mildly uncomfortable and compare it to a slight sting or the sensation of having your legs waxed. Skin care specialists often use cooling technology to soothe the skin during the treatment.

You may or may not see a difference immediately after treatment, but within a few weeks, the broken vessels will be absorbed and likely disappear.

How many IPL sessions are needed for spider veins?

You may need three to six IPL sessions to minimize the appearance of spider veins. But you may also notice a difference soon after the first session.

The sessions should be spaced out to let your skin heal. The amount of time you’ll need between sessions depends on your skin and the appearance of your spider veins, but generally, IPL sessions are separated by about 1 month.

Larger or more pronounced spider veins may need more sessions to reduce their appearance, while more subtle spider veins may need fewer sessions.

IPL treatment for spider veins may be more effective if you:

  • have light- to medium-toned skin
  • have red or purple spider veins
  • have mild or light spider veins

If you’re not sure whether IPL is suitable for you, speak with a skin care specialist.

Potential side effects of IPL

After IPL, you may experience mild redness or swelling for a day or two. However, it shouldn’t be painful, and it shouldn’t be so severe that it stops you from carrying out your day-to-day activities.

In some cases, you may experience:

  • bruising
  • blistering
  • scarring
  • change in skin color

Scarring is more likely to occur in people with darker skin tones.

If IPL is not an option for you, other treatments for spider veins are available and may be more suitable.

Treatments for spider veins include:

  • Sclerotherapy: This is when a healthcare professional injects your veins with a medication that causes the walls of the veins to stick together. Over time, the affected veins will be less visible.
  • Endovenous laser therapy and radiofrequency ablation: These procedures involve a doctor making small incisions and inserting heated laser fibers into the blood vessels, causing the vein to collapse.
  • Microphlebectomy: This is when a doctor removes your blood vessels through tiny skin incisions.

If you’re not sure which treatment would work best for you, consider speaking with a healthcare professional or dermatologist.

Although spider veins don’t cause complications, some people want to remove them for aesthetic reasons. IPL treatments are one possible treatment that can reduce the appearance of spider veins.

IPL treatments can be an effective spider vein treatment that involves next to no recovery time. However, they’re not suitable for everyone. It may be best to consult with a healthcare professional before you decide which spider vein treatment is best for you.