What causes spider veins?
Spider veins are thin, web-like veins that form beneath the surface of the skin. They don’t bulge like varicose veins, but they do tend to cluster, making it look like you have permanent bruises on your legs. Spider veins are hereditary, but a number of lifestyle factors can influence them as well. Sun damage, weight fluctuation, pregnancy, menopause, birth control pills, aging, and extended periods of sitting or standing can all cause spider veins to appear. The good news: you don’t have to live with them forever.
Spider vein treatment options
If you’re embarrassed by spider veins or varicose veins, there are a couple of treatment options available to you. Laser surgery is a new type of spider vein treatment that involves directing strong bursts of light into a vein using a handheld device. The energy destroys the problem blood vessel, causing the vein to slowly fade and disappear. This treatment is less effective than sclerotherapy, which remains the most common and preferred spider vein treatment.
With sclerotherapy, a doctor injects spider veins with a solution that irritates the lining of the blood vessels, causing the veins to swell and stick together. As blood is rerouted through healthier veins, the treated veins fade and disappear. Sclerotherapy doesn’t require anesthesia and is performed right here in our medical office.
What to expect from a sclerotherapy procedure
During the sclerotherapy, your doctor will inject the affected veins with an ultrafine needle. The medicine injected is what causes the blood vessels to swell, clot, and eventually disappear. After your procedure, we’ll dress the treatment area with compressive tape or stockings to promote faster healing. The entire treatment can last as little as a few minutes or up to a half hour, depending on the size, type, and location of the veins injected.
After the sclerotherapy procedure, you may experience some mild itching and redness at the injection sites. These side effects are mild and typically fade within two days. Some patients also experience bruising, which can last up to a week after treatment. There is no recovery time following sclerotherapy; you can return to your normal activities right away. Avoid sun exposure until any bruising and discoloration fades.
Sclerotherapy Spider Vein Treatment FAQ
The best candidates for sclerotherapy are embarrassed by spider veins or small varicose veins and want to show off their bare legs with confidence. Patients should be between the ages of 30 and 60 and have no history of blood-clotting issues. Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not candidates for sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy can be used to treat spider veins and varicose veins on the thighs, calves, ankles, feet, and face.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting affected veins with a very fine needle, so some pain is expected. You may experience mild discomfort and cramping for a minute or two after each injection, especially in larger veins. However, the procedure is well tolerated by most patients.
It varies, but most patients require two to four sclerotherapy treatments to see the best results. For patients with just a few spider veins, one or two treatments usually clears them up completely.
Patients treated for small spider veins or varicose veins can expect to see the amazing results of sclerotherapy three to six weeks after treatment. Larger veins typically take three to four months to collapse and disappear.
Temporary side effects of sclerotherapy include minor bruising, raised red areas, itching, and the appearance of tiny red blood vessels near the injection sites. These usually go away within a few days, though bruising may take longer to fade. Risks include swelling, warmth, or discomfort at the injection sites, blood clots, headaches or nausea, and allergic reaction. Though, these are much less common. Call your doctor right away if you experience any serious side effects following treatment.