Spider veins are more common than you think. The NCBI reports that more than 41% of women over the age of 50 suffer from this unsightly aesthetic and medical condition. In the long term, living with spider veins can not only cause significant physical discomfort, but also self-image issues for many women.
The sunny news is, you can get these diseased veins successfully treated. Sclerotherapy is a time-tested injectable treatment, which can provide safe and proven results to reduce or eliminate spider veins. Based on this, you need to find a skilled and experienced vein treatment provider. In any matter of health, it is of prime importance to make an informed choice.
Let’s have a closer look at what are spider veins and how they can be treated. This guide will help you gain valuable insights into what is sclerotherapy, how it works, and why a growing number of women are seeking this highly effective non-surgical treatment for spider veins.
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are large blood vessels that have a protruding effect on the skin. Most people have slight spider veins on the upper side of the palm. Taking this into account, the appearance of these veins becomes more pronounced with aging. They can also occur in men, but research shows that women are more prone to this condition.
Many women find spider veins in their legs to be an aesthetic issue. Spider veins are smaller veins that look like crawling spider webs beneath the upper layer of the skin. The appearance of these tiny blood vessels is not painful, but they may have an adverse impact on your self-image and overall quality of life. Red or blue visible spider veins, or telangiectatic leg veins can restrict the choice of clothes for many women who feel self-conscious about this condition.
Imagine it’s your best friend’s wedding. You would not be able to wear that amazing black high-slit dress if your spider veins are showing. Also, you may want to avoid wearing short dresses at the nightclub or even a skirt for that weekly visit to the store.
Leg vein issues can escalate into painful problems over time. Try to feel your feet and lower legs. Is there a constant, mild ache that you can’t quite place your fingers on? Do you have difficulty standing over extended periods? Is there a throbbing sensation and numbness from your legs and feet?
Although spider veins may appear as only a harmless cosmetic concern, they may indicate poor blood circulation problems. It’s necessary to seek treatment from a vein specialist. The longer you ignore the problem, the more susceptible you may be to venous complications in the future.
Veins carry deoxygenated blood from all parts of the body to the heart. All veins have one-way valves to prevent the backflow of deoxygenated blood. Sometimes, due to improper functioning of the valves, the blood leaks back to the lower part of the veins instead of its usual passage to the heart.
Over time, this accumulated blood causes the veins to enlarge. The feet are particularly prone to this condition because veins in the feet have to work harder to pump blood against gravity. This may lead to the formation of spider veins. Sclerotherapy for spider veins is one of the most effective medical procedures available today to treat this condition.
Sclerotherapy to Treat Spider Veins in Women
Let’s take a look at how the sclerotherapy procedure is performed. A trained vein specialist injects a medicated solution into the enlarged vein. It’s either a liquid or foam solution. The chemical irritates the blood vessel lining causing it to collapse.
Ultimately the internal lining of the vein tissue coalesces to form a scar. The blood flow continues as usual through other surrounding healthy veins in the circulatory system. The collapsed vein eventually fades away with the body’s natural metabolic process.
The reabsorption of the collapsed vein (local tissue) is a painless event. For most women, the reabsorption takes place over two to three weeks. Pertaining to this, for larger veins, it can take up to six weeks. The number of sclerotherapy treatment sessions and the length of each session can slightly vary depending on how severe the problem is. You should consult with an experienced vein specialist who can create a sclerotherapy treatment plan tailored to your unique needs.
How does the Spider Vein Sclerotherapy Procedure Work?
Spider veins sclerotherapy is an in-office procedure and usually takes about 30-45 minutes for one session. The medical specialist will instruct you to follow certain steps in the days leading to the appointed date.
You should avoid anti-inflammatory drugs such as aspirin at least 48 hours before the procedure. Blood thinners can have an adverse effect on the sclerosing agent, resulting in internal bleeding. Your healthcare provider may also advise against the use of NSAIDs before and after sclerotherapy for spider veins.
The healthcare professional will first wipe the affected area with a cleaning solution. This removes any skincare product that might react with the sclerosing agent. After that, they will inject the targeted spider vein with the sclerosing agent. Sclerotherapy of spider veins does not require general anesthesia or IV sedation.
Before injecting the diseased veins using a fine needle, the doctor makes sure that tiny air bubbles are not trapped within the sclerosing solution. Sometimes, the vein specialist may decide to use ultrasound to locate deep-placed spider veins. The goal is to achieve highly precise and effective outcomes in a minimally invasive manner.
The injection may create a mild burning sensation at the treatment site, but it goes away soon. Larger veins may respond with a mild cramping feeling, but it typically stays only for a minute or two.
What Happens After the Sclerotherapy Treatment?
It’s good to have realistic expectations to avoid any future disappointment. Sclerotherapy is a medical procedure, and like any other treatment, the results require some time to establish and become fully visible. The good thing is that sclerotherapy involves little to no downtime.
You may be able to drive home on your own after the procedure and continue as usual with all your daily activities. Walking would not be a problem, but if you feel uneasy, always contact your doctor. You will need to wear support hosiery for a few days after the treatment. Your healthcare provider may suggest the use of heavy compression stockings. The healing process at the injection sites becomes faster when you wear compression stockings.
The patient must follow certain guidelines up to at least 48 hours after spider vein treatments.
- Avoid taking hot baths or saunas. Showers are allowed but always make sure that the water is cooler than usual. Warm water causes the treated veins to expand, thereby delaying the healing process.
- Avoid direct exposure to the sun’s rays. You should preferably stay indoors.
- Never apply a hot compress or heat treatment on the injection site. It can not only affect the healing process, but also the final result.
- You need to avoid certain medications, especially anti-inflammatory ones such as ibuprofen and aspirin. In relation to this, the doctor may prescribe you pain relief medication such as acetaminophen.
- It’s very rare to have a systemic allergic reaction to sclerotherapy for spider veins. Moreover, patients may complain of generalized or local allergic reactions such as urticaria. It is extremely rare for a patient to suffer from true anaphylaxis following spider veins sclerotherapy.
When Can You See the Results?
Results for small spider veins are usually visible within three to six weeks. With that said, larger veins respond to the sclerotherapy treatment in about three to four months. It’s essential to follow the post-operative instructions closely during this phase for the results to be up to your expectations.
Sometimes, the doctor will prescribe multiple treatment sessions. Spider veins respond faster because they are smaller and blood flow restoration is usually not an issue because your body will find healthier veins for the blood flow. The treated vein usually does not require further treatment. However, new spider veins may appear at any point in the future.
The vascular specialist will ascertain your medical condition again to decide if you are the right candidate for further treatment. You would have to wait for a minimum of six months after the primary treatment for repeating the procedure. Meanwhile, you can continue normal activities such as walking, standing, and sitting, but you may need to avoid running to avoid injury risks.
Why are Spider Veins Such a Frequent Occurrence in Women?
Why are women more susceptible to spider veins? Probably, it’s because women’s bodies witness more hormonal activity than men do. A heightened influence of the hormones, such as estrogen and progesterone, causes the muscles in the legs and feet to relax. This may lead to blood pooling in the veins, ultimately leading to spider veins that require sclerotherapy treatment.
The hormonal action may also be able to explain why spider veins are common among women during menopause. In addition, women who undertake hormone replacement therapy can also develop this condition in their legs.
Genetics may also be a key factor in determining the frequent recurrence of spider veins in women. This is still an area of active research. Medical research also suggests that obesity in women can also be a contributing factor in developing spider veins over time.
In some cases, spider veins may have a correlation with pregnancy. The blood volume in the body of an expecting mother increases to ensure the baby receives sufficient nutrition. The increased weight of the body during pregnancy, along with the higher blood flow, can lead to the formation of enlarged veins in the legs.
Do you have to spend long and frequent hours in a stationary position that puts stress on your feet? It could be one of the reasons why you start noticing the brown lines of spider veins. Women whose jobs or household work or other activities involve long hours in a standing position may have to be more vigilant against the occurrence of spider veins.
Why Are So Many Women Choosing Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins?
Major treatments for spider veins include cutaneous laser therapy, microphlebectomy, and microfoam injection. However, sclerotherapy remains the most popular option for treating spider veins. Why do doctors recommend sclerotherapy for spider veins to women?
To begin with, sclerotherapy is a highly effective procedure. The estimated success rate of sclerotherapy for spider veins ranges anywhere from 60-80%. Smaller spider veins usually respond remarkably to the procedure, disappearing completely within a few weeks of the first treatment session.
Another benefit of choosing sclerotherapy over other treatments is that it is a relatively safe and simple procedure. Enlarged veins in both legs can be treated within an hour during an in-office treatment session. It’s a non-surgical and minimally invasive treatment that requires no cuts or incisions in the skin and leaves no visible scarring.
Walking is not only permitted after sclerotherapy but is also recommended in most cases to prevent the formation of blood clots. Trained healthcare professionals perform the procedure and guide you through the recovery.
It would be an oversimplification to assume that spider veins only pose a cosmetic issue. Many women complain of real, throbbing pain in their legs due to larger spider veins. Suppressing the discomfort with painkillers doesn’t make the problem disappear. Sclerotherapy does. As long as you work with a qualified vein expert, sclerotherapy will most likely make the affected vein eventually disappear and restore a healthy and aesthetically appealing skin appearance.
Benefits of Sclerotherapy for Women
Let’s recap the benefits of sclerotherapy for women.
- Sclerotherapy will eliminate the diseased blood vessels that may be causing aches or discomfort in the affected areas. You will feel more energized and healthy and enjoy permanent freedom from vein-related pain and discomfort.
- Those short dresses in your wardrobe? You don’t have to keep them tucked in the back anymore. Sclerotherapy for spider veins makes you free to wear whatever you please, shorts, split dresses, or minis.
- Sclerotherapy restores healthy and natural-looking skin in your affected areas. The legs may become so smooth after the treatment that you can’t help but admire yourself in the mirror.
- Sclerotherapy is a safe and proven process. All you have to do is find an experienced doctor to perform this procedure. A single treatment session usually does not take more than an hour.
- You can return to your daily routine quickly after the treatment. Some restrictions would be there, but they are easy to follow. The treatment is available on an outpatient basis.
How to Deal with Spider Veins during Pregnancy?
A woman’s body undergoes many major changes during pregnancy, and spider veins are often one of those changes. These veins may show up as purplish waves just under the surface of your skin. The legs and feet are the usual places where these veins become prominent, but spider veins can appear anywhere, including the face.
If during pregnancy your feet become swollen, or you have developed rashes along these abnormal veins, you should consult a doctor. An astute vein specialist will assure you that it’s not a matter of worry, and is a treatable symptom. With that said, you should put your scheduled sclerotherapy treatment on hold until your baby stops breastfeeding.
During pregnancy, you need to focus on the well-being of yourself and your baby. All new mothers have concerns about recovering their pre-pregnancy appearance. Sclerotherapy for spider veins is a painless and easy procedure, and you will only have to wait for a few more months to get back your pre-pregnancy skin appearance in the treated sites.
That said, here are a few safety tips to deal with your pregnancy-related spider veins concerns.
- Choose a vitamin-rich diet: Including a sufficient amount of vitamin C in your pregnancy diet plan can help with the issue. C vitamin helps produce elastin and collagen in the body, key connective tissues that help with the repair of affected veins.
- Be relaxed: Try to relax without restricting the blood flow in your feet. Restricted body postures over time cause pressure buildup on blood vessels, leading to spider veins. You need to avoid sitting for a long time. Also, gradually you need to slow down on activities such as cooking that require you to stand up for a long time.
- Exercise regularly: You can also try pregnancy yoga and simple exercises with expert guidance. The physical movements keep your blood flow even, preventing the formation of spider veins.
- Wear compression stockings: These stockings maintain uniform pressure along the feet, thereby ensuring that there are no blockages to the blood flow. In relation to this, you need to avoid stockings that put pressure on your belly or groin. Choose comfortable compression stockings that are not too tight. You can wear them during the day, and let them go in night.
- Avoid constipation: Enrich your food with plenty of fiber. Constipation problems during pregnancy strain the veins of your feet. Fiber will help you maintain healthy digestion at this time.
When Should Women Avoid Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins?
The vein doctor will evaluate your medical history and the extent of affliction to determine if you are an ideal candidate for sclerotherapy. The following pre-conditions could make you ineligible for sclerotherapy treatment.
- You suffer from frequent blood clots (vein thrombosis). Women suffering from both deep vein thrombosis and superficial thrombosis are ineligible for the treatment.
- Pregnant women should avoid sclerotherapy.
- Breastfeeding moms should avoid sclerotherapy.
The vein specialist also evaluates whether the targeted veins are necessary for a future surgical procedure. You should be ready to have a detailed consultation with the doctor before the treatment begins. Among other questions, you should have a clear idea about the treatment procedure, possible side effects, and the time required to heal from the procedure.
The vein specialist also evaluates your medical history to determine your candidacy. You may have to stop taking herbal supplements, blood thinners, and iron supplements for some time as long as it does not affect your health. In addition, the doctor also takes into account whether you have had previous treatments to remove spider veins.
The vein doctor also avoids the saphenous vein which may be important for future surgical bypass requirements. A series of blood tests for allergies may be necessary for some women before they are declared eligible for sclerotherapy of spider veins.
Frequently Asked Questions on Spider Veins
Have questions on spider veins and sclerotherapy? Take a look at these FAQs.
Are these veins permanent?
Spider veins are a common occurrence. They are usually permanent in absence of treatment, and they may even worsen over time if you ignore treatment. Sclerotherapy ensures that the treated vessels eventually get eliminated from your body.
How does a vein specialist diagnose the spider vein problem?
The doctor will have a close look at the back of your legs while you stand. You will also have to inform whether the spider veins are painful or not. Sometimes, the doctor may conduct a venogram test to observe the blood flow in the veins of your legs. Deep underlying veins may be identified with an ultrasound exam.
Are spider veins treatable at home?
You may be able to mitigate some of the symptoms of the visible veins at home by following certain tips from your doctor. Furthermore, if you want an effective and sustainable solution, sclerotherapy is the right option.
Will health insurance cover the costs of spider veins treatment?
It depends. You will have to contact your insurance provider to see if the preferred doctor’s office is within its network. Also, the insurance provider will validate the feasibility of your healthcare needs to determine whether you are eligible.
Do spider veins pose serious health risks?
Usually, spider veins do not pose a significant health risk. Furthermore, you should consult a professional to see if the vein condition is more serious or if you feel any discomfort. The vein specialist will evaluate if there are risks of blood flow obstruction, and suggest a sclerotherapy treatment for the right candidates. Sometimes, the problem can be cosmetic, affecting your self-image. The spider veins treatment may help you regain your self-confidence by making them disappear.
Visit Mark Medical Care for Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins
Dr. Ron Mark is an expert phlebologist certified by the United States Board of Medicine. He was the ‘Student of the Year’ of the prestigious Guadalajara University in Mexico. Dr. Mark completed his residency training at Columbia University, and followed it with a second specialization in radiology at the Bridgeport Hospital. He also received advanced training in Laser Endovenous Ablation and magnetic resonance to treat vein problems.
The state-of-the-art facilities at Mark Medical Care are designed to deliver the latest and most effective solutions to your varicose veins and spider veins problems. To book your appointment, give us a call at 877-673-4818 or contact us online.