Spider and varicose veins, though unsightly, are an extremely common ailment. Roughly 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men will battle spider or varicose veins in their lifetime.
Varicose veins are most commonly recognized by their twisted, bulging, cord-like appearance. These swollen veins are raised above the surface of the skin and are usually red, blue or flesh colored. The thighs, backs of the calves and inside the legs are most often afflicted. Symptoms of varicose veins include aching or cramping in the legs, burning, throbbing, tingling or heaviness.
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, though smaller in size and closer to the surface of the skin. These veins are red or blue in color and appear in jagged lines like the branches of a tree or spider web. Spider veins are most often found on the legs and face. They tend to cause less discomfort than varicose veins.
Several treatment options are available for spider and varicose veins. The least invasive treatment would be support stockings. These stockings are especially helpful when the veins are causing pain and discomfort. The stockings come in a range of compression pressures, the strongest which needs to be prescribed by a doctor. They can be found in medical supply stores and some pharmacies.
Simple changes in life style may be the second most conservative option. If necessary, weight loss may be recommended. Good skin hygiene and adding walking as a source of exercise are options as well.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure that has been around since the 1930s. This inexpensive, outpatient procedure involves a saline solution being injected into the vein. Treatment usually continues for three to six weeks until the vein disappears.
Surface laser treatments can be very effective in treating spider and varicose veins. These treatments send strong bursts of light into the vein through the skin causing the vein to disappear over time. Heat from the lasers may be quite painful. Not all skin types or colors can safely undergo these treatments.
Endovenous techniques are done under local anesthesia in a doctor’s office. A catheter is inserted into the vein and a probe is placed in the catheter. Radiofrequency or laser energy pulses are then used to heat up and close the vein. Slight bruising may be seen after this procedure.
Surgery should be a last resort reserved for very large, uncomfortable varicose veins. Surgical techniques include tying off the vein (ligation) or removal of a long section of vein (stripping). These same-day surgeries are performed with local, general or spinal anesthesia.
Most varicose or spider veins require no treatments unless they are causing discomfort or cosmetic concerns. Patients suffering from pain or other symptoms can contact us for a consultation.