What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are small networks of unsightly blood vessels visible just below the skin’s surface. In addition to being unattractive, spider veins can cause bothersome itching and burning. If you have spider veins, it makes a lot of sense for you to look for help getting rid of them. Like other varicose vein disorders, they don’t just “go away” or spontaneously improve. They get worse. We use sclerotherapy to effectively treat spider veins. The in-office procedure doesn’t require anesthesia. Sessions may be scheduled for 30 or 60 minutes. Patients are often self-conscious of their spider veins and hide them with makeup or thick stockings. Many just keep their legs covered all the time. Even in our South Carolina summer heat, they avoid wearing skirts, shorts, and bathing suits.
Causes Of And Risk Factors
Spider veins develop from a backflow of blood in the veins. This condition, which results from damaged valves in the veins, is called “venous reflux.” As blood collects in these veins, their walls distend. This increases the size of the veins and makes them visible under the surface of the skin. Risk factors for developing spider veins include the following:
- Increasing age
- Hormonal changes
- Lack of exercise
- Sun exposure
Having a family history of spider veins is also a risk factor for developing them.
What is Venous Reflex?
Spider veins may be a sign of a more serious condition called Venous Reflex. We, therefore, perform an evaluation for Venous Reflux before recommending cosmetic sclerotherapy. Patients with venous reflux are usually more symptomatic and may require more invasive vein treatments to achieve their goals.
Are Spider Veins Curable?
We have no cure for spider veins but we can control them. Our most satisfied patients, like the one shown here (see below), are those who allow us to get their legs clear of unsightly spider veins and keep them clear with periodic “touch up” visits.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a simple office treatment that can clear spider veins. Sclerotherapy involves injecting a pharmaceutical – called a sclerosant – into problem veins. The sclerosant causes the veins to scar and collapse so blood no longer fills them. The body will absorb the diseased veins and reroute blood to healthy veins within a few weeks. Using a fine needle we inject the veins with a pharmaceutical which causes injury to the vessel. Through the body’s normal response to injury, the vein is “dissolved ” and disappears.
Is Sclerotherapy Painful?
Maybe you’ve had previous painful spider vein treatments with saline, so-called “saline injections”, and are worried that all sclerotherapy burns and hurts. Good news! It doesn’t. Today’s new FDA-approved pharmaceuticals are relatively painless and are much more effective than saline.
What about Laser Treatments?
Like most “vein specialists, we treat spider veins with sclerotherapy rather than laser for three reasons:
- Laser treatments hurt more
- Laser Treatments cost more
- Sclerotherapy works better
What Are The Results?
Sclerotherapy sessions typically last about 30 minutes during which there are numerous injections. Sclerotherapy patients can usually see positive results within four to six several weeks.
Although patients sometimes report a brief period of itching and treated areas may appear bruised for a few days, a little discomfort is experienced.
Treated veins generally don’t come back, but new veins may appear.
The number of sessions needed to reach a patient’s goal may vary, depending on the number and size of the veins treated.
Treatments are usually given 4 to 6 weeks apart, so if you want to be “summer-ready” we recommend you begin your treatments with us well in advance (the preceding year is best).
Patients resume normal activities immediately after treatment. We sometimes recommend wearing compression stockings for 3 to 4 days following treatment.
There is no cure for varicose and spider veins but we can eliminate your current ones and control them in the future. We recommend that our patients allow us to clear their legs of unsightly veins and then, as needed, treat the new veins every year or two.