Treatment of lower extremity telangiectasias in women by foam sclerotherapy vs. Nd:YAG laser: a prospective, comparative, randomized, open-label trial

J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2015 Mar;29(3):549-54. doi: 10.1111/jdv.12627. Epub 2014 Jul 28.


Background: Telangiectasias of the lower extremities are very common. There are no blinded, randomized, controlled clinical trials comparing laser modalities with the gold standard sclerotherapy, while the few available studies encompass small patients cohorts.

Objective: This prospective, randomized, open-label trial compares the efficacy of sclerotherapy with polidocanol vs. long-pulsed neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet (Nd:YAG) laser in the treatment of leg telangiectasias.

Patients and methods: Fifty-six female patients with primary leg telangiectasias and reticular veins (C1A or SEpAS1PN) were included in the study. One leg was randomly assigned to get treatment with the multiple synchronized long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser, while the other received foam sclerotherapy with polidocanol 0.5%. The patients were treated in two sessions at intervals of 6 weeks. The patients were evaluated by the handling physician after 6 weeks and 6 months. Two investigators assessed blindly at the end of the study the photographs for clearing of the vessels using a six-point scale from 1 (no change) to 6 (100% cleared). Patients reported about pain sensation and outcome satisfaction.

Results: According to the handling dermatologist, at the last follow-up, there was an improvement of 30-40% with a median of 3 (IQR 2) and a good improvement of 50-70% with a median of 4 (IQR 2) after laser treatment and sclerotherapy respectively. In contrast, according to the blinded investigators, there was a median of 5 (IQR 1) with a very good improvement of >70% after both therapies. Improvement was achieved more quickly by sclerotherapy, although at the last follow-up visit there was no difference in clearance between the two groups as assessed by the blinded experts (P-value 0.84). The degree of patient's satisfaction was very good and similar with both therapeutic approaches. There was a significant difference (P-value 0.003) regarding pain perception between the types of therapy. Laser was felt more painful than sclerotherapy.

Conclusion: Telangiectasias of the lower extremities can be successfully treated with either synchronized long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser or sclerotherapy. The 1064-nm long-pulsed Nd:YAG laser is associated with more pain and is suitable especially in case of needle phobia, allergy to sclerosants and in presence of small veins with telangiectatic matting, while sclerotherapy can also treat the feeder veins.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Laser Therapy*
  • Leg / blood supply*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prospective Studies
  • Sclerotherapy*
  • Telangiectasis / therapy*
  • Young Adult