Generally, people with varicose veins begin by having spider veins. Eventually they may have both conditions. Some may consider spider veins just a cosmetic nuisance but they can actually lead to more serious vein problems.
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins, but smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. Often, they are blue or red with zigzag lines and take the shape of spider webs. They are found on the legs and face and can cover small or large areas. The backup of blood causes spider veins but they can also appear as a result of injuries, hormone changes, and exposure to the sun.
How are Spider Veins Treated?
There are a variety of options for spider vein treatment, ranging from the most simple to the very complex, from non-invasive to minimally invasive. The most common options are:
- Compression Stockings: These stockings put supportive pressure on your veins, aiding in the flow of blood. Compression stockings come in three styles support pantyhose, gradient compression hose and prescription-strength gradient compression hose – with increasing pressure.
- Sclerotherapy: Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for spider veins and varicose veins. The doctor injects a chemical into the vein that causes the vein to collapse and seal; the vein turns into scar tissue and disappears. Anesthesia is unnecessary, the procedure is done in the doctor’s office, and you are able to resume normal activity immediately. There is another type of sclerotherapy called ultrasound sclerotherapy that uses ultrasound imaging to guide the needle. This treatment is especially helpful in treating veins that cannot be easily seen.
- Laser Treatments: Laser treatments can effectively treat spider veins and small varicose veins. This technique emits strong bursts of light through the skin onto the vein. This makes the vein slowly fade and disappear. While no needles or incisions are used, the heat from the laser can be painful. Often, multiple treatments are needed to remove spider veins in the legs using this method.
- Endovenous Treatments: This treatment is for treating the deeper veins of the legs and has replaced surgery for most patients with severe varicose and spider veins. The doctor puts a very small catheter into the vein. A device at the tip of the probe heats up the inside of the vein and closes it off; laser energy is used to seal the vein. Local anesthesia is used; some bruising may result. Spider veins that are connected to the treated varicose vein will usually shrink after the treatment.
How you sit, walk, sleep and eat can either help or hurt your recovery or possibly cause the reoccurrence of spider veins, so many doctors prescribe lifestyle changes to complement the treatment of spider veins.
Suffering with spider veins? The Chicago Vein Institute offers medical consultation and a complete diagnostic evaluation to determine the best treatment plan for your spider veins.