Spider Vein Treatment

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spider vein treatment

There are effective, safe and relatively painless methods available for reducing spider veins. The most common spider vein treatment is sclerotherapy. This procedure involves injecting a solution into each affected vein, causing the vein to collapse and fade. Laser treatment is also available for the reduction or removal of spider veins.

What are spider veins?

In some women and men, spider veins—those small clusters of red, blue or purple veins that appear on the thighs, calves and ankles—become noticeable at a young age. For others, the veins may not become obvious until much later.  Spider veins can occur in men or women of any age, but most frequently affect women in the childbearing years and older people.

More than 40 percent of women have some form of varicose vein condition including spider veins, with an increasing incidence of venous disease as one gets older, so that up to 80 percent of women have some form of venous disease by age 80. Slightly more women than men have varicose and spider veins.

Causes of spider veins:

Heredity

Hormonal shifts

Occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing

Pregnancy

Weight fluctuation

Time for a consultation

During your spider vein treatment consultation be prepared to discuss:

  • Any problems you may have had in the area to be treated, such as pain or previous injuries
  • Any surgical procedures that have been performed near the area to be treated, including any previous vein treatments
  • Current medications, vitamins, herbal supplements, alcohol, tobacco and drug use
  • Medical conditions, family history, drug allergies and medical treatments
  • Your goals

Your dermatology provider will also:

  • Evaluate your general health status and any pre-existing health conditions or risk factors
  • Examine your veins in detail
  • Discuss likely outcomes of spider vein treatment and any risks or potential complications
  • Discuss your options – sclerotherapy (injections) or laser treatment
  • Recommend a course of treatment

If leg veins are the problem, your surgeon may examine you for signs of more serious “deep vein” problems, as well as for larger, varicose veins. These conditions are often identified by swelling, sores or skin changes at the ankle.

Use this checklist as a guide during your spider vein treatment consultation:

  • Am I a good candidate for this procedure – either sclerotherapy (injections) or laser treatment?
  • Where and how will you perform my procedure?
  • How long of a recovery period can I expect, and what kind of help will I need during my recovery?
  • What are the risks and complications associated with my procedure?

What are the risks of spider vein treatment?

The decision to have spider vein treatment is extremely personal. You will have to decide if the benefits will achieve your goals and if the risks and potential complications of spider vein treatment are acceptable.

You will be asked to sign consent forms to ensure that you fully understand the procedure and any risks.

The risks include:

  • Change in skin sensation
  • Hyperpigmentation
  • Infection
  • Persistent pain
  • Scarring
  • Swelling and bruising
  • Ulceration

How should I prepare for spider vein treatment?

In preparing for spider vein treatment, you may be asked to:

Avoid taking aspirin, anti-inflammatory drugs and herbal supplements as they can increase bleeding. Stop smoking or take certain medications or adjust your current medications.

Spider vein treatment requires no anesthesia and is usually performed in an outpatient setting. More than one treatment session may be required to obtain optimal results.

What are the steps of a spider vein removal procedure?

Your spider vein treatment procedure may include the following steps:

Injection

The common method of treating spider veins in the legs and ankles is called sclerotherapy.

During treatment, a sclerosing solution is injected into the affected veins. The injection irritates the inside of the vein, and over time the vein will collapse and fade from view.

If you have multiple spider veins, the treatment will require multiple injections to collapse all the veins.

Bright light and magnification may be used to ensure maximum precision while injecting the sclerosing solution.

Post-injection

After treatment, the area may be dressed with compressive tape or stockings, or an elastic Ace wrap for a period of time. During your recovery from spider vein treatment, you will be instructed to wear support hose to help your legs heal.

The veined area often looks a bit bruised initially, and the color slowly fades over the course of a few weeks.

Some people can have a bit of brownish discoloration (hyperpigmentation) occur to the area during the healing process. This hyperpigmentation fades as well, but that could take months.

Laser treatment option

Spider veins may also be improved with laser treatments.

In this method, an intense beam of light is directed at the spider vein, which obliterates it through the skin.

More than one laser session may be needed to obtain the desired results. Sometimes, laser therapy is used in combination with sclerotherapy.

What should I expect during my spider vein treatment recovery?

During your recovery from spider vein treatment, you will be instructed to wear support hose to help your legs heal.

The treated sites will appear bruised, and you may feel some cramping in your legs for the first day or two after treatment. This discomfort is temporary and usually doesn’t require prescription medication.

Although every patient heals at a different rate, most are back to normal activities quickly.

You will be given specific instructions that may include how to care for your legs following treatment, medications to apply or take orally to aid healing and reduce the risk of infection and when to follow-up with your dermatologist.

You can expect that your spider vein treatment recovery will follow this general time line:

Within one week

  • You will be instructed to wear support stockings for three to six weeks
  • You should avoid squatting, heavy lifting and running
  • The tape, cotton balls or any other dressings (if used) will be removed from the treated areas when recommended by the dermatologist
  • The treated sites will appear bruised
  • You will be discouraged from sitting or standing in one place for more than an hour or two
  • You will be encouraged to walk

Within one month

  • The bruises at the treated sites will diminish
  • You will begin to feel more comfortable wearing leg-baring fashions
  • You can resume most exercise
  • One month after the first treatment, spider veins are distinctly lighter, yet still somewhat visible
  • You will be discouraged from sitting or standing in one place for more than an hour or two

After two months, your veins treatment should have completed its healing.

What results should I expect after spider vein treatment?

After each spider vein treatment, you will notice improvement of your skin’s appearance. However, it is important to realize that new spider veins may surface in the future.

As time passes, you may want to consider further treatment to take care of any new veins that may emerge.

Questions? Please reach out to us. You can also read more on our website or book a consultation here.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Annette Williams
    Reply

    Are laser treatments as effective as sclerotherapy?

    • Dr. Henry
      Reply

      Sclerotherapy may be the better choice if you have a low pain threshold or if your skin type is not compatible with the laser used during laser vein therapy. Laser treatment for spider veins may be the preferred option if you have an aversion to needles or the medications used during sclerotherapy, or if the vessels that need treatment are too small to be injected. The best choice of treatment may also depend on the size and location of your veins. There is a higher chance of recurrence with laser vs sclerotherapy.

      Both treatments are effective when used appropriately. There are some vessels that will respond better to sclerotherapy injections and others that are more responsive to laser treatment. The decision on which treatment modality to use is based on several things such as size of the vessels, location, skin type, etc. These things can be evaluated and further discussed during a consultation with one of our providers.

      Thank you for reaching out!

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