Spider Veins

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What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins appear as red or purple sunbursts on the skin surface, and can occur on the face, legs or ankles. They can itch, and can be found alone or in combination with varicose veins. They are not a health risk alone, but are often a cosmetic concern. Most spider veins are treated with a combination of sclerotherapy and laser ablation. These combined treatments offer the best long term results.

Spider veins are small-dilated veins near the surface of the skin. Sclerotherapy is the primary treatment for ‘spider’ veins of the legs. Spider veins are usually cosmetic but can sometimes indicate a deeper problem.

The heart pumps blood to supply oxygen and nutrients to all parts of the body. Arteries carry blood from the heart towards the body parts, while veins carry blood from the body parts back to the heart. As the blood is pumped back to the heart, veins act as one-way valves to prevent the blood from flowing backwards. If the one-way valve becomes weak, some of the blood can leak back into the vein, collect there, and then become congested or clogged. This congestion will cause the vein to abnormally enlarge. These enlarged veins can be either varicose veins or spider veins.

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but they are smaller, are often red or blue in color, and are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They can look like a tree branch or spider web with their short jagged lines. Spider veins can be found on both the legs and the face. They can cover either a very small or very large area of skin.

How would The Vein Doctor treat Spider Veins?

Sclerotherapy

The Vein Doctor treats Spider Veins using a minimally invasive procedure called sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a technique which involves the use of a very fine needle to inject a solution (sclerosant) directly into the veins. The solution causes the lining of the vein swell, eventually sealing off the blood vessel and preventing blood flow.

Prior to treatment, a complete medical history is taken and a thorough examination made in order to determine, among other things, how long the problem has existed, the severity of the symptoms, whether or not the condition is affected by physical activity, and if there has been prior surgery or treatment of the veins. The physician determines if the deep venous system is affected, in which case surgery may be recommended before sclerotherapy is undertaken. Preoperative instructions may include the elimination of certain drugs which contain aspirin in order to minimize the possibility of excess bleeding. The physician decides whether or not the area to be treated should be shaved. The veins are usually marked while the patient is in a standing position.

Larger veins are usually treated first. After the skin is thoroughly cleansed with alcohol, the physician uses a syringe with a tiny needle to inject a small amount of sclerosing (hardening) solution directly into a vein.

The solution displaces the blood within the vein, causing it to blanch or turn white. The solution then causes the vessel to become irritated and swell shut, prohibiting the blood from reentering the vein. When the needle is withdrawn, pressure is immediately applied to the area. The skin may be kneaded to help disperse the solution and reduce bruising. Each vein may require several injections and most disappear in two weeks to two months.

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