Spider veins – the medical term is telangiectases or venulectases – don’t usually cause symptoms but their appearance bothers many people. This is particularly true when spider veins appear on the face. If you need spider vein treatment, your options are slightly different than if you need varicose vein treatment. Here’s the skinny on spider veins from Vascular and Interventional Associates.
Spider Vein Treatment – About the Problem
Spider veins really are varicose veins; they are much more common in women than in men. They are much smaller, however, and in addition to the legs, may show up on more visible places like the face. Like varicose veins, spider veins occur because tiny flaps of skin in the veins called valves fail and allow blood to back-flow and pool in the vein. Larger varicose veins become distended and tortuous; they may cause symptoms like burning, itching or leg pain. Spider veins show up as “star bursts” of clumps, or fine red, purple or blue lines. Spider veins affect the blood vessels just under the skin, so they are highly visible. Since they don’t always cause symptoms, spider vein treatment is often for cosmetic reasons. Occasionally, these small veins may cause burning or itching.
Spider Vein Treatment Options
Sclerotherapy – a minimally invasive office-based procedure – is generally considered the gold standard for spider vein treatment. Sclero means scar, which is how the procedure works. A special solution that is painless to the patient is injected into each vein with a tiny needle. The solution – which is FDA approved – irritates the vein wall, but doesn’t usually cause any pain when injected. The vein swells, collapses and sticks shut (other veins take over the task of blood return from the area). The vein gradually turns into scar tissue and is absorbed, making it disappear. In most cases, it takes a few weeks for the vein to disappear completely. You’ll need to wear compression hose after the treatments to help the veins seal shut, but you can usually resume normal activities almost immediately. You may need several treatments in the affected area to eliminate all the spider veins.
How Do I Prepare for Spider Vein Treatment?
Preparation is quite easy. If you take any medications, herbal products, vitamins or supplements, provide your doctor with a list ahead of time. Don’t shave your legs/face or apply lotion for at least 24 hours prior to the procedure. This helps reduce the risk of infection or skin irritation. You should wear loose, comfortable clothing. Once the procedure is over, you’ll be able to walk about immediately. An ice pack or over the counter pain medications should take care of any discomfort. Walking is encouraged, but vigorous exercise should wait for a while. If you’ve decided you’re ready for spider vein treatment, please contact Vascular and Interventional Associates. We can answer any questions or schedule you for an assessment with one of our skilled interventional radiologists. We’re the only comprehensive vein center in the Cincinnati and northern Kentucky area.