Spider Veins (Sclerotherapy)
Small, unsightly spider veins on the legs and face affect millions of women. Besides their unattractive appearance, spider veins in the legs can also cause aching, burning and night cramps.
“Spider veins on my legs made me very self-conscious and detracted from my appearance. Some were actually painful. What a relief to have them gone for good.” —B.K. (age 33)
About the Procedure
Vein sclerosing is a mild and relatively painless way to get rid of spider veins. During treatment, a small amount of sclerosing agent is injected into the veins, causing them to wither and eventually be reabsorbed by the body.
This simple procedure does not require sedation or anesthesia. Treated veins are somewhat more prominent for about two weeks and then gradually fade over the next four weeks.
Women choosing these treatments see resolution of active spider veins and an improved appearance of the leg skin with the ability to wear shorts and bathing suits. Many also find that they are able to spend long periods of time on their feet with minimal discomfort.
- I have a lot of spider veins. Can they all be done at the same time?
When using the detergent solutions, which are the most effective, the manufacturer recommends limiting the dosage to 3cc—a 20 to 25 minute session. If these numbers are exceeded, nausea may occur or even vomiting. Repeat sessions can be performed on consecutive days in almost any pattern that is convenient for the patient.
- Are there people who can’t have sclerotherapy?
People with a history of trauma and/or severe injuries to their legs which increase the likelihood of injury to the deep venous system, should probably not have anything injected into the superficial venous system, since this may be the only functional system they have. Also, people on blood thinners and some other medications are not good candidates for sclerotherapy.
- I have varicose veins. Can they be treated by sclerotherapy?
There are clinics in the United States and Europe that do treat varicose veins with injection. We do not treat them through our facility, however, because of the unacceptable risk of damaging the more significant and major blood vessels. Our practice limits the size of the blood vessels being treated to about the size of a pencil lead, but no larger. We do offer limited surgery to correct varicose veins.
- I have spider veins on my face. Are these treated by injection also?
In spite of the fact that lasers on the legs have a problem with bleaching of the skin, the risk is significantly less on the face. Many of the veins on the face can be effectively treated. The fairly large veins near the corner of the eye are occasionally treated by injection, as are the vessels that are present right at the temple area. Otherwise the most common treatment for facial spider veins is with a laser called the Diode laser.
- I have one very dense area of broken veins where I was hit with a tennis ball. Is this treatable?
The areas that most people refer to as “broken veins” are exactly the same as spiders. They are the same vascular collection of small blood vessels and are treated exactly the same way. It is interesting that spider veins will sometimes occur in high density in areas of previous trauma. They are treatable in the exact same way. Sometimes in areas of significant density, particularly those associated with traumatic injury, spider veins will require several treatments. The initial treatment corrects the superficial spiders; however, beneath the treated vessels an additional layer may become exposed that will require treatment as well. It is almost as if these are two-level injuries. After treating the highest level, it is possible to see through to the problems at the deeper level.
- Once my veins are treated, does that mean they are never going to come back?
The treated vessels have no ability to repair themselves or return, but the process that caused the vessels originally, which is a combination of genetics, hormonal activity and lifestyle, still exist. We tell all of our patients that a reasonable goal is to bring the spider veins under control to the point where a touch-up would only be needed every year or two. A cure is not an option.