What Are the Options for Spider Vein Treatment?

April 26, 2017 • Desert Vein Institute • Spider Veins

The first glimpse of tiny blue, red, or purple blood vessels often takes patients aback.  Although web like collections of spider veins cause few medical problems, they can raise significant cosmetic issues.  Vein specialists offer several spider vein treatment options.

Overview of the Disorder

Although many patients assume spider veins are a type of varicose veins, there are some differences between the two types of blood vessels.  Spider veins usually form closer to the skin’s surface.  They are also typically much smaller than varicose vessels.  However, both types have a shared cause:  venous insufficiency. When one-way valves in veins become defective, blood that is supposed to travel toward the heart falls backward.  As it pools, the resulting pressure expands the walls of a vessel, causing the development of a spider vein or a varicose vessel.  Spider veins most commonly form on the legs or the face and often appear in clusters. Patients suffering from this type of insufficiency typically have these symptoms, according to the American College of Phlebology:
  • A leg that feels heavy
  • Pain, aching, or throbbing
  • A swollen limb
  • Leg cramping
  • Itching
  • A sensation of fatigue in the affected leg
A variety of influences have roles in spider vein development.  These are the most frequent, as reported by the Cleveland Clinic:
  • A family history
  • Growing older
  • Being obese or overweight
  • Hormonal shifts in women
  • Prolonged periods of standing or sitting with crossed legs
  • Vein injury

Spider Vein Treatment Choices

Fortunately, all the treatment options currently used for spider veins are available on an outpatient basis.  Depending upon individual needs, the goal might be to prevent the disorder from getting worse or to actually get rid of abnormal vessels.  Many patients take advantage of both options. Three types of treatment are helpful for spider veins:
  • Conservative therapies:  They include self-care and lifestyle changes such as wearing compression stockings, increasing physical activity, frequently elevating a patient’s legs, shedding extra pounds, and wear clothing and shoes that fit well.
  • Sclerotherapy:  Often called a “gold standard” of treatment for spider veins, it is the option vein specialists use the most often.  They frequently pair it with ultrasound technology to achieve the best results.  Using a fine needle, a vein doctor injects a substance called a sclerosing agent into each targeted vein.  This agent, which is liquid or foam, irritates the walls of the vessel.  This causes them to adhere to each other and the vein to close.  Eventually, the body resorbs the vein, causing it to disappear.  The number of sclerotherapy sessions required depends on how many veins are targeted and exactly where they are located.
  • Transdermal laser treatment:  It uses heat to close and eradicate veins.  This therapy is very well suited to small spider veins.

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