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 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’s 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.
There Is No “Quick Fix” — Effective Spider Vein Treatment Takes Time
Contrary to what you might see or read in the media, “zapping” spider veins one time only just doesn’t work. The problem is that the blood keeps coming right back up to the area, so of course it’s not going to get better. I have patients come in and tell me they’ve spent goodness knows how much time and money, getting this or that so-called “miracle” treatment, but the problem just keeps coming back, because they’re not getting the proper treatment for the underlying feeder veins that are supplying the area.
Although it may be hard to resist the lure of “instant result” promises, to really get the best resolution of spider veins, the process has to build on itself over a period of time. For most patients, usually 3 to 5 treatments are typical, scheduled about a month apart.
This Isn’t Your Grandmother’s Sclerotherapy
Treatment today is very different compared to years gone by. If a patient is particularly sensitive, we can apply cold packs or a topical anesthetic to the area before treatment, but the burning or cramping that used to be associated with sclerotherapy is a thing of the past. Modern advancements have progressed far beyond the uncomfortable, outdated medicines previously used, and most patients today find there is minimal or no discomfort, and they have no downtime after treatment. Though major physical exercise or activity isn’t recommended, you can go right back to work, you can go shopping or out to dinner, or do anything else you normally would.
If you are interested in a complimentary consultation where I can examine your spider veins and discuss treatment options with you, please call my office at (913) 451-VEIN (8346).