Pesky and unattractive, spider veins are most often cosmetic in nature, though they can be symptomatic of a deeper issue called venous insufficiency or venous reflux. They appear as threadlike red, blue or purplish veins and are commonly found on the legs, calves, thighs and ankles. They form from pressure in the venous system, which in turn, forces the thin-walled veins to expand to several times their normal size, resulting in spider veins.
Sclerotherapy is the gold standard of care in the treatment of spider veins and is a relatively simple procedure that involves injecting an FDA-approved solution directly into the vein via a tiny needle. The sclerosant solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to collapse and seal closed. The vein is eventually reabsorbed and fades.
Before you undergo sclerotherapy, Dr. Craig Schwartz will perform a visual examination of your legs and review of your family history. Depending on whether or not he thinks your spider veins could be symptomatic of deeper venous reflux, he may recommend a venous duplex ultrasound, as many spider veins stem from underlying chronic venous insufficiency. Spider vein clusters around the ankles raise a red flag for possible issues with deeper veins, including the great saphenous vein. If Dr. Schwartz finds other issues prior to sclerotherapy, he will develop a comprehensive treatment plan for managing both the underlying and cosmetic issues.
Spider veins result from pressure in the venous system. This can occur for a variety of reasons. Some people have a genetic predisposition to develop spider veins. For these people, new spider veins can occur after treatment. Spider veins in the ankle area hint at possible chronic venous insufficiency when larger veins in the leg stop transporting blood effectively and allow it to back up into the smaller veins.
Other factors that contribute to the development of spider veins include pregnancy, which causes hormonal changes and increased blood volume throughout the body and puts pressure on the cardiovascular system. Spending long periods of time in one position, whether sitting or standing, can contribute to spider veins as well. People may have medical conditions that predispose them to spider veins, and like those with hereditary spider veins, new ones may appear.
While sclerotherapy isn’t dependent on skin type, it works best on smaller vessels, and only patients who have recently experienced clotting issues are not qualified for the therapy. Schedule a vein screening with Dr. Schwartz to see if sclerotherapy is right for you. Sclerotherapy with laser treatment to achieve the best results and maximum spider vein removal. Since both methods are non-invasive and have little to no downtime, most people will make good candidates for both treatments.
Sclerotherapy is a quick, in-office treatment session that takes between 20-40 minutes. There’s no significant preparation other than cleansing or sterilizing the skin, as with any injection. You may require multiple sessions, depending on the severity of your condition and the number of veins or treatment areas.
Dr. Schwartz may also schedule you for laser treatment to address spider veins too small to treat with sclerotherapy. You can expect your first session to last about 40 minutes to include consultation time, with further sessions lasting about twenty minutes.
Your total number of sessions will depend on how many spider veins you have and their location. It will also depend on what results you want to see. For example, some people may want more of their spider veins treated because they want to wear dresses or other clothes that reveal more of the leg area. Since spider veins do not require treatment, you have the option to treat only those that bother you or make you feel uncomfortable.
While your veins may appear to vanish immediately as they go into spasm, it actually takes 4-6 weeks for them to be completely collapsed and absorbed. The treated area often may look worse before it looks better. Reasonable clearance typically requires 3-5 sessions spaced 4-6 weeks apart. It is important to remember that new spider veins can form over time, based on one’s genetics, so patients should be aware that if veins reappear at some point in the future, it is not that they have “come back”, just that new ones have developed. Past treatments do not prevent you from having newly appeared spider veins treated in the future.
Patients can return to routine work and normal activities immediately following treatment. However, patients should wait 24-36 hours before doing anything that will significantly increase their heart rate, such as major exercise, heavy lifting, running, etc. Dr. Schwartz also advises recently treated patients to avoid prolonged sitting or standing in one place for more than 1-2 hours at a time, with frequent periods of walking.
*Individual Results May Vary
Read from real patients about their experiences with Dr. Schwartz and his team at Premier Vein & Body by Schwartz.
*Individual Results May Vary
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