What are spider veins?
Spider veins are abnormally dilated blood vessels in the skin. Spider veins can cause the same symptoms as much larger varicose veins including itching, burning, heaviness, and fatigue in the legs. Although they may be symptomatic, spider veins are not usually a health hazard and do not lead to serious complications. In rare cases they can bleed profusely after being injured, but otherwise they are treated mostly as a cosmetic problem.
What causes spider veins?
Spider veins develop in two ways. First, tiny pre-existing veins can enlarge and become dilated over time. Secondly, your body actually grows new veins where it doesn’t need them…in the skin. Pregnancy, hormone-containing medications, and hormonal fluctuations may stimulate their appearance, thus, spider veins are more common in women. The tendency to develop abnormal veins is largely hereditary, and there is not much you can do to prevent them. In some cases, the appearance of spider veins may be an indication that there are larger diseased veins underneath. The physician may use ultrasound to search for any larger diseased veins that may be causing your spider veins. If larger diseased veins are found, they need to be treated first and eliminated or else spider vein treatment will be ineffective.
How are spider veins treated?
Sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice for spider veins. In sclerotherapy, a solution is injected into the abnormal veins causing them to shrivel and disappear. Blood is re-routed into nearby healthy veins. Although there has been much publicity about ‘laser’ treatment for spider veins, most vein specialists consider laser therapy to be less effective and more painful than sclerotherapy. Interestingly, spider veins on the face appear to respond better to laser than do spider veins on the legs.
We will be able to answer any questions about the treatment and what results you can expect during your consultation.
Treatment Options for Large Varicose Veins
Patients with large varicose veins or significant underlying venous disease require more involved treatment to correct the medical problem. The options that are available at The Islands represent modern, state of the art techniques. This text is intended to help you to better understand your options from a medical standpoint.
This technique involves using diagnostic ultrasound to identify and target the affected veins. Under direct ultrasound visualization a sclerosing chemical agent is injected into the diseased vessel. This chemical causes damage to the vein wall resulting in closing down the vessel.
- Less invasive ( no surgery involved)
- Smaller veins that may connect to the treated vessel sometimes benefit also and may lighten or disappear.
- Sclerotherapy (cosmetics) are much more effective in treatment.
- Less costly but sometimes not reimbursed by insurance.
- Mild to moderate discomfort (leg aches) for sometimes weeks.
- In sections of the treated vessel you may develop trapped blood once it tries to close down and you may form a hardened tender area that may need to be drained on your return visit.
- Hyperpigmentaion (skin staining) is a risk/side effect. The damaged vessel tends to leak small amounts of blood causing iron deposits that may look like “rust” stains. These areas usually fade but may be permanent.
- Moderate bruising along the treated vessel site.
Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy is a technique that is only performed skilled physician. It is best used to close down medium sized varicosities. It is less desirable for patients with significant moderate to large surface varicosities because there is more potential for less than optimal cosmetic outcomes and poorer long-term results.
This is one of the most modern surgical approaches to treating larger varicosities. It involves removing the veins through small punctures under local anesthesia. This technique differs dramatically from VEIN STRIPPING and SHOULD NOT be confused. It is far less invasive and much more effective. This technique is sometimes combined with Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy for optimal results.
- It is a permanent removal of the diseased vessel and an excellent long term benefit.
- No general anesthesia only local.
- Excellent cosmetic results with minimal IF ANY staining or scarring.
- Minimal discomfort and essentially no “down time”.
- Amazingly quick recovery and instant gratifying results.
- Minimal risk of infection.
- More involved than injections.
- More costly than injections although most insurance carriers recognize the procedure to be medically necessary.
The Ambulatory Phlebectomy is based on the extent of the diseased vessels and their involvement with other vessels of the lower extremities. This is an “in-office” procedure and our patients may return to their normal daily activities the very next day. Pain medication is rarely required.
After a 2 week period, any remaining diseased vessels seen during the final imaging process may be injected using the Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy technique. This procedure has an extreme cosmetic benefit.
EVLT® Laser Treatment for Varicose Veins
EVLT® by Diomed is the leading laser treatment for varicose veins. Backed by outstanding clinical results and pioneering technology, EVLT® is the first choice of physicians and patients when it comes to a minimally invasive alternative to painful surgery.
The EVLT® procedure is simple and effective. It takes less than an hour in a doctor’s office to eliminate varicose veins and get patients back to their everyday activities right away. With a success rate of up to 98% and minimal side effects, EVLT® is the new gold standard in varicose vein treatment.
Nearly 25% of women and 15% of men suffer from lower extremity venous insufficiency and associated visible varicose veins.1 Primary risk factors include heredity, gender, pregnancy, and age. Most of these patients have long-standing leg symptoms which compromise their daily routines, with symptoms worsening during the day while they are on the job or simply living their lives. Without varicose vein treatment, these symptoms can progress to a life-style limiting condition.
Traditionally, varicose vein treatment has been painful surgery (called ligation and stripping). Now, endovenous laser treatment (EVLT®) provides a proven, minimally-invasive alternative that allows patients to return to their everyday lives immediately. Varicose veins (and sometimes spider veins) are usually a symptom of chronic venous insufficiency, a disease that causes blood to flow backward in the veins, making them bulge and twist down the leg. Venous insufficiency (also called venous reflux) can occur throughout the venous system, but occurs most frequently in the great saphenous vein, small saphenous vein, and other veins of the superficial venous system in the lower legs.
One-way valves in the veins of the legs typically ensure that blood is carried toward the heart and prevent it from flowing backward (down the leg) and pooling. Valve failure leading to chronic venous insufficiency can be caused by multiple factors:
- Injury or other trauma
- Weak vein walls that dilate under normal pressures
- Genetically abnormal valves
- Normal veins whose vein walls are weakened by hormones (as in pregnancy)
Varicose vein treatment may be indicated when valves fail, blood flows backward (or downward) in the veins, and pressure increases in the venous system below. This increased pressure causes many of the symptoms of venous insufficiency as well as potentially (over time) causing the failure of additional valves below the original failed valve.
If you suffer from problems related to varicose and spider veins you are not alone.
At the Vein Center we offer total vein services to care for all of your needs with very little downtime and beautiful results.
- Ultrasound-guided Sclerotherapy
- Endovenous laser Treatment
- Laser Vein Treatment
- Ambulatory Phlebectomy
Pain – Spider Veins – Unsightly Varicose veins – Bulging leg veins