Spider veins usually represent a cosmetic concern instead of a medical problem. For fair-skinned individuals, these small blue, red, or purple veins are very noticeable. Understanding spider vein treatment options helps alleviate the concerns prospective patients have about the difficulty of getting rid of these annoying blood vessels.
Spider Vein Basics
It’s no accident that these vessels are called spider veins. They often appear in a cluster resembling a web. The Cleveland Clinic says they are actually capillaries and sometimes manage to surround a patient’s varicose veins. Their most frequent sites are on the legs, ankles, and face. As many as 50 percent of American adults suffer from varicose or spider veins. Varicose veins are generally the larger of the two types of vessels and form farther below the surface of the skin. While most people associate spider veins with aging, some patients develop them as early as their 20s. A number of additional factors might play a role in their appearance, according to UCLA Health:
- Family history
- Carrying excess weight
- Hormone shifts linked to pregnancy or other conditions
- Extended sitting or standing
- Conditions in neighboring veins
- Injury after trauma such as a sports collision
The treatments patients receive at vein clinics are outpatient procedures that create minimal disruption to busy lives.
Spider Vein Treatment Choices
Spider vein patients might undergo a mixture of three types of treatment, depending on the severity of the problem:
- Conservative treatments typically require changes in lifestyle like shedding weight, avoiding crossing the legs, steering clear of tight clothing, and opting to wear compression stockings.
- Sclerotherapy is often called the gold standard of treatment for spider veins. Depending on a patient’s circumstances, vein doctors sometimes also use it as a varicose vein treatment. The procedure involves using a small needle to inject a special substance into a targeted vein. The liquid or foam, known as a sclerosing agent or sclerosant, irritates the vein’s walls, causing them to close. According to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, the vein eventually collapses, then disappears. Healthier veins near the targeted vessel assume the circulation workload. Most patients are back to their normal routine except for strenuous activities the same day as a sclerotherapy session. Success of the procedure partially depends on wearing compression stockings for a time specified by the physician after the treatment. Sclerotherapy is highly effective in treating spider veins. The number of treatments an individual needs depends on the location and size of veins to be eliminated.
- Laser therapy takes advantage of energy from an intense light passed through the skin to eliminate a targeted vessel. Treatment might involve multiple sessions. Some patients undergo a combination of laser therapy and sclerotherapy.
No treatment prevents the development of new spider veins. Some patients return periodically for treatment of new vessels.