Spider veins, those red, blue, or purplish sunbursts that appear on the skin surface, are one of the most common problems I see in my practice. They affect both men and women, young and old, and though they may not be a major health concern, they can be unsightly and embarrassing, especially as the swimsuit season approaches.
They can also be symptomatic, causing itching, burning, throbbing, or aching, and are sometimes found in combination with varicose veins, which are much more serious. As with varicose veins, spider veins (on a smaller scale) are caused by the faulty feeder, or reticular, veins underneath the surface. It is essential to address these reticular veins if you want adequate resolution of the visible veins.
Laser treatment is one popular method of treating spider veins because it can treat what’s on the surface, but by itself, it’s insufficient to resolve the problem completely. Common sense will tell you that if you don’t take care of the source of where the blood is coming from, then what you see on the surface will either never go away, or it’s going to keep coming back, time after time. In this day and age, anyone with spider veins who are being treated with laser alone is actually being undertreated.
The gold standard of spider vein treatment remains injection sclerotherapy, and the optimum approach is a combination regimen: laser treatment for the surface, and sclerotherapy for the underlying, reticular veins, as well as anything on the surface large enough to be injected.
Sclerotherapy treatment does not require any anesthesia, causes little (if any) discomfort, and has no downtime afterward. Patients can resume normal activities immediately. A tiny needle is used to inject the veins with a special “sclerosant” solution that irritates the lining of the faulty veins. In response, these veins collapse, seal closed and are slowly reabsorbed. If you think of your veins like a highway system, the effect is to redirect congested traffic to alternate, free-flowing routes.