Spider veins are often viewed as a minor annoyance or cosmetic imperfection. However, they are more than just a skin discoloration or a cosmetic concern: spider veins can be an indicator of other, more serious venous disease. Thankfully, medical advances have made spider veins treatment options like those offered at Cardiac Associates of North Jersey in Oakland, NJ accessible to virtually anyone.
You can recognize spider veins by their web-like appearance. They are usually red, but they may also be blue or purple, and they most often appear on people’s legs as they age. They are the result of small amounts of blood pooling within your surface veins.
While they do not usually cause discomfort, they do often cause embarrassment or a decrease in self-confidence. If you have noticed spider veins on your legs, you may resist wearing shorts, skirts or bathing suits even in hot weather. Unfortunately, that can lead to isolation and missing out on activities you enjoy like going to the beach or pool.
Spider veins may never develop further, or they may be a precursor to larger, uncomfortable varicose veins. Although many people consider spider veins harmless, they may also be an early warning of a more serious condition.
Spider veins appear primarily as the result of blood pooling within your veins. Those veins are designed to carry blood in one direction: back toward your heart and lungs to be re-oxygenated.
This pattern of movement is controlled by small valves within your veins. They prevent the backflow of blood, but valves can wear out due to time and excess pressure. When they fail, the valves allow a slight backflow of blood. The result is a stagnant pool of blood or increased pressure within that section of the vein.
Veins do not have particularly strong walls since they are designed to carry blood in a single direction without much pressure. When those walls are stressed by added blood, they can become enlarged or burst. This results in the discolored appearance of spider veins on your skin.
No matter how much you wish them away, spider veins will not simply disappear. However, we offer several spider veins treatment options that can eliminate the discoloration.
Sclerotherapy has long been seen as the gold standard among spider veins treatments. It has been used by doctors in some form since the 1930s. Sclerotherapy is minimally invasive and widely considered safe.
The Treatment Process
Most sclerotherapy sessions will take between 30 and 45 minutes. They can be performed right in our office, so you won’t have to make a special trip to a hospital or outpatient center.
During a sclerotherapy session, an irritant is injected into your vein. This is done through a small injection site, similar to what you would experience while donating blood. Once inside your vein, the sclerosant causes irritation and swelling.
As your vein continues to swell, the blood flow is blocked. Once that happens, your body automatically diverts blood to other nearby, healthy veins. The treated vein, no longer carrying blood, will slowly dissolve and be absorbed or expelled by your body.
Recovery and Post-Treatment Care
Sclerotherapy is minimally invasive and requires very little downtime afterward. While you may be advised to avoid strenuous activity for a couple of days and wear compression socks during recovery, there is not usually a specialized post-treatment care plan. The full results of your sclerotherapy treatment will usually be visible after a few weeks.
Ablation treatments literally destroy your veins by applying heat from within them. Once heated, the veins scar and, eventually, die. Both radiofrequency waves and laser light pulses can be used to generate the heat required to effectively treat spider veins. This is considered minimally invasive and can be performed in your doctor’s office or an outpatient vein center.
The Treatment Process
During a treatment session, you will have a catheter inserted into your damaged vein. The doctor will use ultrasound imaging to guide a probe through the catheter to the abnormal section. This probe delivers pulses heat that damages the vein tissue.
Vein ablation sessions generally last between 45 minutes and one hour. You should plan some additional time before your appointment for preparation. You will probably be given a local anesthetic to help keep you comfortable.
Recovery and Post-Treatment Care
You should be prepared to use compression on the insertion site for a few days following your treatment. Walking is generally encouraged afterward to encourage circulation, but you should try to avoid strenuous activity for at least a few days.
Ablation treatments show very promising results. Because the affected vein will need to be removed naturally, it can take several weeks before full results are noticeable.
While the decision on a spider veins treatment will ultimately be made between you and your doctor, there are a few indicators that one treatment may be a better choice than others.
Sclerotherapy is minimally invasive and is considered very safe and effective. It can be used to treat spider veins as well as larger varicose veins, and it is most commonly used to treat abnormalities on the legs. Ablation is an excellent choice for larger, more complex venous abnormalities.
Regardless of the treatment method you decide on, once your spider veins are removed, they will not come back. The affected veins are completely destroyed during the treatment process.