Skirt, shorts or pants? If you find yourself picking pants more often than most because of Spider veins – those small broken blood - vessels we can help. You are not alone; estimates are that 50% of all adults have telangiectasias- the medical name for spider veins - on their legs.
Types of Veins
Spider veins are small groups of blood vessels close to the surface of the skin. They appear anywhere on the body, but are most commonly found on the legs. Their appearance on the face is also common. The causes of spider veins are varied. Factors such as heredity, pregnancy, trauma, aging, sun damage and hormonal influences can contribute to developing spider veins. They may indicate a more severe disease process usually venous disease so have them evaluated ids important. Most spider veins pose no health hazard but many people find them unsightly. In some people, spider veins appear in their early 20s. For most they appear in their 40s or following a pregnancy.
Reticular veins are blue or bluish green networks of small veins that are deeper beneath the skin than spider veins. These veins frequently feed areas of spider veins which are closer to the surface of the skin then reticular veins. Small and thin reticular veins don’t protrude on the skin surface. Reticular veins sometimes form unattractive clusters of veins. These clusters are generally found on the inner thighs, and the backs of legs and ankles. They can be painful and cause discomfort.
Reticular veins don’t exist for no reason. Underlying conditions cause their appearance, they need be evaluated to see if they are a sign of an underlying disease process.
Veins on the face are dilated blood vessels. Called by a number of names; broken blood vessels, spider veins, telangectasia, rosacea veins, smile lines or broken capillaries. Found on the nose, cheeks, chin and around the eyes, they are usually small, thin red spider veins or blue reticular veins. They are found in both men and women. While harmless and painless many people find them unattractive.
Sclerotherapy or Microsclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy – sometimes called microsclerothepy - is considered the treatment of choice for spider and reticular veins. It’s a minimally invasive treatment. It uses a very fine needle to inject a liquid chemical into the vein. The chemical causes the vein walls to swell, stick together, and seal shut. This cuts off the flow of blood, and causes the treated vein to turn into scar tissue. After a few weeks, the vein will generally fade. This treatment does not require anesthesia and is done in our office. The procedure takes fifteen minutes to an hour to complete. You can return to your normal activities right after treatment.
In some case, several sclerotherapy treatments may be needed. The same vein may need to be treated more than once. Treatments are usually done every 4 to 6 weeks. You will need to wear gradient compression stockings after sclerotherapy to help with healing and decrease swelling. This treatment is very effective when done correctly.
There is a type of sclerotherapy called ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (or echo-sclerotherapy). This type of sclerotherapy uses ultrasound imaging to guide the needle. It can be useful in treating veins that cannot be seen on the skin’s surface. Because the vessels being treated are the larger reticular veins a technique called foam sclerotherapy is often used. Foaming the chemical/drug increases its effectiveness in larger veins.
Cost for sclerotherapy is a function of the size and number of veins being treated. Since sclerotherapy for spider veins is usually considered a cosmetic procedure by medical insurance companies, the cost of treatment is not covered.
Light-Based Treatments - Surface Laser and IPL Treatments
Laser and/or intense pulsed light (IPL) can be used to treat small leg and facial spider veins. A very strong bursts of light is pulsed through the skin onto the vein. This heats and seals the vein off. Over a period of weeks the vein is adsorbed by the body and is no longer visible. Light-based treatment-Laser or IPL- is generally used only to treat small veins. Treatments may be combined with sclerotherapy. Multiple treatments are usually required. Not all skin types and colors can be safely treated with lasers.
While no needles or incisions are need light based treatment can be painful. Cooling and topical numbing cream is used to reduce the discomfort. Laser treatments last for 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of the area being treated. Generally, 2 to 5 treatments are needed to treat spider veins in the legs. You can return to normal activity right after treatment.
Like the cost for sclerotherapy, laser treatment costs are a function of the size and number of veins being treated. Again like sclerotherapy for spider veins, laser treatment is usually