What are spider veins?Spider veins ("sunburst varicosities” or telangiectasias) are very fine, visible veins often appearing on the face or legs. They may appear blue, red, or purple in color. Varicose veins are larger than spider veins, and may appear raised or swollen. They may be blue or purplish in color.
There are many potential causes of spider and varicose veins, including genetics, extended periods of standing or sitting, weight gain, pregnancy, certain medications, and diseases such as venous reflux. Many people find the appearance of visible diseased veins embarrassing. Additionally, they are sometimes associated with itching, burning, leg fatigue, and even ulcers (open sores).
Spider veins typically appear in one of three patterns:
- Spider – This cluster of fine lines appear to radiate outward from a common center point, similar to the legs of a spider.
- Arborizing – Spider veins in this configuration resemble fine tree branches, reaching out from a trunk. This is most common on the outer thigh area.
- Linear – Veins form thin, unconnected lines. These are most common on the inner thigh area.
SclerotherapyThis is a good option for treating spider veins as well as small varicose veins. The procedure is simple and relatively painless. A sclerosing agent is injected into the problematic vein, which causes irritation to the lining. The vein gradually collapses and seals, fading away over time. In most cases two treatments, about a month apart, are needed to achieve optimal results.
Following sclerotherapy treatment, gauze and a compression bandage will be applied to the injection site to facilitate better healing. There may be slight discoloration or bruising at the treatment area, which should resolve within one to two weeks. Your doctor will give you complete post-treatment care instructions, which may include wearing prescription compression stockings. Most patients are able to resume the majority or their regular activities after treatment.
There are few risks associated with sclerotherapy. In rare cases, patients may experience blood clots, inflammation, scarring, allergic reactions, or temporary irregularities in pigment. Occasionally, telangiectatic matting may develop, which is a cluster of visible, reddish veins in the treatment area. Telangiectatic matting can be corrected with additional treatment sessions.
Endovenous laser treatment (“EVLT®”)This technique utilizes the power of laser technology to eliminate diseased veins gently and effectively. The procedure is performed with a very fine laser fiber, inserted into the vein through a tiny access point. Laser energy, applied via the fiber, heats the vascular walls, causing them to shrink and close. As a result, blood is directed to healthy vessels, and the treated vein shrinks and fades.
The procedure only takes about 45 minutes, and it is completed on an outpatient basis. Due to the minimalistic nature of this technique, only local anesthetic is needed. Immediately following treatment, you may experience some discomfort, bruising, discoloration, and soreness at the site of treatment. This is normal and temporary; it will fade over time. You will be prescribed a compression bandage, which you will need to wear for about one week.