Have you ever noticed tiny red and blue veins on your legs and wondered what they are? They’re most likely spider veins, and you are definitely not alone in having them! In our clinic, we see many people who want to make their legs look better. They have silently suffered for many years, and it still surprises me how long they wait before consulting a doctor. Very often, spider veins are the culprit. They can certainly be a nuisance, and occasionally cause pain and even bleeding. But nowadays, several minimally invasive procedures exist to relieve the problem. Read on to learn more about these tiny web-like veins and your treatment options at Artemis Colorado.
There’s typically no way to determine exactly why a person develops spider veins. Cosmetic spider veins may appear due to factors like genetics, aging, occupations requiring long periods of standing or sitting, childbirth, or injury. However, spider veins can also be symptomatic of venous disease. Venous disease, a medical condition affecting nearly 40% of adults in the US, causes valves within leg veins to close improperly. As the circulatory system in the legs continues malfunctioning, spider veins and/or varicose veins are often one result. The same factors that create cosmetic spider veins can also contribute to the formation of venous disease.
When spider veins are only cosmetic, the primary reason for eliminating them is to relieve the distress and insecurity many patients feel because of the impact of the veins on their appearance. However, when spider veins are also accompanied by physical discomfort such as pain, swelling, aching and fatigue in the legs, that may indicate the patient has venous disease. If that turns out to be the case, it’s important to treat the disease so that it does not worsen over time and lead to additional complications. Fortunately, there are highly effective treatments available that will resolve symptoms and eliminate the spider veins. Sclerotherapy is the most common approach.
Sclerotherapy is a highly effective procedure that can be performed entirely in a medical office. Tiny needles are used to inject a sclerosing agent into the spider veins, causing them to collapse and eventually fade. Despite the use of needles, this is essentially a painless procedure (it feels like a mosquito bite). For patients who are very sensitive to or concerned about pain, we can apply a light local anaesthetic. The typical treatment session lasts 30 to 60 minutes, and two to three sessions may be required to achieve optimal results.
After treatment, you can drive home and resume regular activities. We’ll ask that you wear compression stockings for a short period of time following each sclerotherapy procedure. The stockings enhance the effectiveness of sclerotherapy and reduce inflammation.
In the days following treatment, it’s fine to go about your normal routine, but avoid strenuous activity or exertion (no hiking fourteeners!). Over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol can relieve any discomfort, but patients should avoid anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin and ibuprofen for at least 48 hours.
The sclerotherapy procedure is well-tolerated and may be the best option for most patients. However, laser treatment for spider veins is another method that offers excellent results, and may be the optimal choice depending on a patient’s unique circumstances.
Laser therapy uses light and heat to constrict spider veins so that they collapse and eventually dissolve. Laser therapy is completely non-invasive and can treat spider veins almost anywhere in the body.
As with sclerotherapy, more than one laser treatment session will likely be necessary to eliminate a patient’s spider veins. However, these sessions are typically shorter than sclerotherapy treatments. The post-treatment protocol is similar to that for sclerotherapy. After treatment there is no downtime, but we will ask you to wear compression stockings for a brief period to support the veins and reduce swelling. It’s important to know that both sclerotherapy and laser therapy only treat current spider veins. These procedures can’t prevent new spider veins from forming.
If you are interested in treating your spider veins, a phlebologist (a doctor specializing in veins) is the best person to consult. At Artemis Colorado, we offer patients a free vein screening using ultrasound. After we take a peek at your veins and have a chance to talk about your symptoms, I’ll be able to make a recommendation for treatment that is best for your individual situation.
Left untreated, diseased veins can get progressively worse over time. Once symptoms develop, such as dull aching, edema, cramps, pain, or restless legs, it becomes a medical problem and it is highly advised that you see a medical specialist to diagnose the issue. Symptoms development can be slowed or halted using compression stockings, and it is recommended to use stocking for at least three months before undergoing any procedures.
Both sclerotherapy and laser treatment for spider veins are well-tested, effective procedures. In our clinic, we treat many people who simply want their legs to look better, and many others who have, unfortunately, suffered silently with the symptoms of venous disease for many years before consulting a doctor. Now that you know a bit more about spider veins and potential treatment options, I hope that you’ll contact Artemis with any questions. If you have been putting off treatment, or just want to improve the appearance of your legs, consider giving us a call at 720-571-9730 to discuss your symptoms and arrange an appointment for a free vein screening. Artemis’s great medical team will be there with you every step of the way.