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 form due to a backflow of blood in one’s veins. As a result of damaged valves in the veins, this condition is known as “venous reflux.” The walls in these veins begin to distend as blood starts to collect. This causes the veins to grow in size and become visible under the skin’s surface. The development of spider veins may be due to:
- Hormonal changes
- Increasing age
- Sun exposure
- Lack of exercise
- Family history of spider veins
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 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.
Difference Between Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
While spider veins are a result of the same vascular malfunction as varicose veins, they are much less serious. When a vein becomes varicose, this means that the walls of the vein have thinned and blood has begun to pool. This results in the appearance of dark, palpable cords on the skin’s surface.
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 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.
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
Reasons For Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy may be right for you if you experience one or more of the following:
- Leg cramps, especially at night
- Redness or swelling
- Pain, aching or burning sensations in your legs or feet
- Scaly, dry or discolored skin
- Discomfort from sitting or standing for long periods
Individuals troubled by varicose veins may choose, in consultation with their physician, to undergo sclerotherapy either because they find them unattractive or because the diseased veins are causing unpleasant and/or dangerous symptoms.
Patients can return home after sclerotherapy. Most patients return to work and resume regular activities the next day, although exercise and other types of strenuous activities should be avoided for one to two weeks. Compression bandages are typically worn for about a week or so after the procedure. Although it may take up to a month for the patient to see the full results, some improvement is usually visible right away.
To promote vascular health and retain the positive effects of sclerotherapy, it is recommended that patients maintain a healthy weight and make exercise part of their daily routine.