What are spider veins?
Spider veins are small, damaged veins that often appear on the legs. They are not usually painful or harmful, but some may wish to treat them for cosmetic reasons. Spider veins are blue, purple, or red and may appear in the form of thin lines, webs, or branches, hence the name ‘spider’ veins. Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure used to eliminate spider veins.
Treatment options for spider veins
Fortunately, there are effective treatments to reduce the signs of and eliminate spider veins. During a consultation with board certified dermatologist, Dr. Rachel White can discuss each of the treatment options listed below and devise a treatment plan specifically for you. Typically, treatment is determined by your general health, and the size, position and severity of your spider veins.
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive and effective treatment to eliminate spider veins. Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution into the vein which causes the vein to collapse and disappear. The most commonly used solution is polidocanol. The injected solution works by irritating the lining of the veins, causing them to collapse and clot, thereby destroying the vein. These veins are completely cosmetic and have no effect on the health of your body’s vascular system. The injections are safe and effective. Multiple sessions of treatments may be warranted. Within weeks you can expect the appearance of your spider veins to fade.
In addition to or in place of sclerotherapy, Dr. White may recommend treatment using laser technology. The energy produced by laser is selectively absorbed by hemoglobin in the vein. Upon impact with the target area, the laser energy destroys the unwanted spider vein.
When you walk, your calf muscles contract and relax to assist in circulating blood to and from the heart. Compression stockings aid the calf muscles to work more efficiently. Compression therapy is designed to squeeze veins so that the valves close, help restore normal blood flow and improve overall circulation. They compress spider veins to improve valve function, reduce backward flow of blood, and reduce swelling. This will improve symptoms and prevent worsening of existing spider veins. They also slow down the development of new spider veins. Compression therapy offers the easiest way to find pain relief and protect against recurrence.
- Weight loss helps reduce pressure on leg veins.
- Avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time.
- Avoid crossing legs when sitting.
- Avoid wearing high heels for extensive periods.
- Elevate your legs above your heart as often as possible. This helps reduce swelling and achiness.
- Exercise to improve muscle tone and subsequent blood flow.
- Avoid tight clothing around your waist, upper thighs and legs which can restrict blood flow.
Often the treatment of spider veins will include a combination of the therapies listed above. Dr. White recommends lifestyle changes, and compression therapy as a conservative approach to prevent worsening of the condition and prevent formation of additional spider veins. For patients who simply want to do away with existing spider veins, sclerotherapy is regarded as the gold standard in cosmetic vein treatment.