Can I Use Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins?
Sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a chemical solution directly into the vein, is the most common procedure for treating spider and smaller varicose veins.
About half of all women have spider veins, which appear as clusters of thin blue, purple, and red lines on the legs, ankles, and face. While harmless, spider veins are unsightly, and many women want to get rid of them for cosmetic reasons. Luckily, sclerotherapy for spider veins can accomplish that quickly and painlessly.
The widespread use of sclerotherapy to treat spider veins and smaller varicose veins began in the 1940s. Today, it’s one of the most effective and common spider veins treatments, with a success rate between 80 and 90 percent. Continue reading to learn what sclerotherapy can do for your spider veins.
How do spider veins form?
Spider veins develop when tiny valves in the veins malfunction and allow blood to pool. This excess buildup of blood causes the veins to become swollen and visible on the legs and ankles. Obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and hormonal changes during pregnancy and menopause are some of the top causes of spider veins.
Unlike varicose veins, spider veins are flat and thin. They don’t typically cause symptoms, but some patients complain of itching, burning, and cramping. Spider veins aren’t considered a serious health problem, but they can be an early sign of chronic venous insufficiency (CVI), which refers to a general breakdown in the circulatory system. If you notice several spider veins or have varicose veins along with spider veins, it’s recommended that you get checked by a vein specialist for further evaluation.
How does sclerotherapy work?
Sclerotherapy is performed as an outpatient office visit, typically lasting no more than an hour. No special preparations are needed, but your doctor may advise you to stop taking certain medications before and after the procedure. Don’t put lotion on your legs before your sclerotherapy procedure, and wear loose clothing or shorts to the appointment.
There are two sclerotherapy methods. The doctor injects a safe, saline-based solution directly into the vein during visual sclerotherapy. The solution irritates the vein walls, forcing them to collapse. Since the vein can no longer carry blood, blood flows to nearby healthy veins as the body reabsorbs the vein.
Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy involves using an ultrasound image to guide the needle and solution inside the vein. A mixture of oxygen gas and a foam-based sclerosant allows the doctor to get a clear image of the vein on ultrasound as the foam spreads evenly inside the vein.
Because the needle is so thin, you won’t need anesthesia. It’s normal to feel a slight stinging and burning sensation during the procedure as the needle enters the vein, but otherwise, you should feel little to no discomfort.
After the procedure, you can drive yourself home. Minor bruising around the injection site is common and typically fades in a few days. Your doctor may recommend wearing compression stockings for some time to promote healing. Walking is also encouraged. However, you should avoid hot tubs and direct sunlight exposure while you recover.
Within weeks, you should start to see the spider veins diminish. If you have numerous spider veins to be treated, you may need to return for several sclerotherapy sessions.
How to prevent spider veins
Although sclerotherapy is safe, effective, and nearly painless, it’s still a medical procedure most people prefer to avoid. Because spider vein treatment is done mainly for cosmetic reasons, your insurer may not cover it. But you can keep spider veins at bay with these preventative measures:
Manage your weight. Extra pounds strain the veins and blood vessels to the point where blood cannot flow efficiently. Maintaining your weight at an ideal level takes the pressure off the veins.
Stay active. Exercise supports circulation, especially in the leg veins. Walking, biking, and swimming are the best ways to keep blood pumping. But you can help your circulation even when sitting or standing for long hours. Flex your ankles regularly when you sit or walk around for a few minutes whenever you can to prevent blood from pooling in the veins.
Wear comfy clothes. Tight clothes restrict circulation, which increases the chance of spider veins forming. Less restrictive clothes feel more comfortable and are better for your veins.
Prop up your legs. Elevating your legs above your heart for 30 minutes drains blood from the leg veins back to the heart.
Put on compression stockings. Compression stockings gently squeeze the veins to help blood flow smoothly.
Tired of looking at your spider veins? See a CVR specialist
Center for Vein Restoration (CVR) operates two full-service vein care facilities in New Mexico. Each office is led by two experienced physicians who can tailor a treatment plan for you to eliminate spider veins and varicose veins.
Michael Harding, MD, is board-certified in vascular medicine, cardiology, and internal medicine. Chandran Vedamanikam, MD, is a board-certified phlebologist in venous and lymphatic medicine and family practice.
Don't live near a New Mexico CVR vein clinic location? No problem! With over 100 vein clinic locations in 22 states and the District of Columbia, there's sure to be a CVR vein center near you. You may also schedule online at your convenience.
801 Encino Place NE
Albuquerque, NM 87102
2220 Grande Boulevard SE
Rio Rancho, NM 87124