Spider veins (telangiectasias) are small purple to red blood vessels often visible on the leg, ankle or foot. Occasionally, spider veins will appear on the face. The cause is unknown, but heredity plays a strong role in the development of this condition. These should not be confused with varicose veins, which are larger, deeper veins that are usually lumpy and sometimes deeper purple in color. Varicose veins may sometimes cause leg discomfort, whereas spider veins are usually pain free. Spider veins are progressive, and usually increase in number and visibility with age.
Spider Vein Treatment
The oldest and most common treatment for spider veins on the legs is sclerotherapy. This involves injection of a sclerosing agent into the veins, which irritates the vessels, causing them to scar and become less noticeable. Some surgeons use a concentrated (hypertonic) saline solution, while others use different sclerosing agents. Often, the veins do not actually go away, but become less visible because of the reaction around the walls of the vein. The injections may sting a bit, especially if saline is used, but the discomfort does not last long.
Another treatment which is sometimes effective is the use of a laser. This is especially true in the facial area, where the laser may be the preferred method of treatment called the VeinWave. The laser service is now available at our office.
Deep veins and varicose veins are not effectively treated with these methods. In order to treat varicose veins, surgery is usually performed for optimal results. Some differences regarding varicose veins include:
- Varicose veins are normally darker in color
- Varicose veins usually are larger in size
- Varicose veins tend to bulge
More than one treatment is often required, since all the veins will not respond to the first treatment. Also, since this is a progressive condition, the patient can expect new spider veins to occur over time, which may require treatment every few years to maintain the improvement.
Spider Vein Treatment Benefits
- No downtime - patients can immediately resume work and all normal activities. But the patient is advised to refrain from vigorous activites for the first 24 hours.
- Little if any discomfort.
- Generally, excellent overall improvement in the appearance is acheived.
- Sclerotherapy is a safe, time-proven procedure.
Other Spider Vein Treatment Considerations
- Patients may be asked initially to wear heavy-duty support stockings to help keep treated veins closed and reduce bruising.
- Initial bruising may occur. It is best to avoid direct sunlight (or use a sunscreen) during the first couple of weeks following treatment.
- Color changes, and small areas of scarring can occur in the skin where sclerotherapy or laser has been performed.