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Spider Vein Treatment

Available Treatments for Spider Veins

LegsSpider veins are blood vessels that are small, usually colored purple or red, and found most commonly on the thighs and lower legs of women. However, spider veins may also occur on the face or on any portion of the leg. Spider veins do carry blood, but they are not part of the venous valve system and can be treated and removed without worry.

Spider veins get their name because of their similarity in appearance to that of a spider. A starburst of purple or red veins that seems to radiate from a central point outward, gives spider veins their unique appearance. However, spider veins may also occur as single, thin lines, branches of a thicker vein, or as a web-like maze.

Spider veins are almost exclusively found in women and are usually caused by the hormonal fluctuations of a woman’s cycle or pregnancy. Most commonly, they show up during pregnancy. Sometimes, the spider veins that begin during a pregnancy may fade and disappear on their own without treatment as the hormones in a woman’s body return to normal post-partum.

Spider veins can also be caused by long-term sitting or standing or gaining weight. Pressure on the veins can cause the walls of veins to weaken and create spider veins.

Spider veins can cause some discomfort and pain, such as cramping or burning, however the leading reason for spider vein removal is unsightliness. The occurrence of spider veins can range from few to many, and differs from person to person.

In the 1920s, a procedure was developed using a sclerosing solution to eliminate spider veins and was coined Sclerotherapy. The solution is injected directly into the spider vein using a tiny needle. The injected solution causes the veins to cease functioning, turn white and then disappear.

In order to achieve optimal results, usually two or more sessions of Sclerotherapy is required to fully destroy and dissipate spider veins. Each treatment will, however, lighten the spider veins significantly. Each session usually takes between 15 minutes to an hour, depending on the severity and number of spider veins being treated.

Sclerotherapy is done on an out-patient basis and is usually performed in the doctor’s office or at a surgical suite. In most cases, no anesthetic is required as minimal pain is experienced during therapy. Most of the discomfort is caused by the sting of the tiny needle being inserted through the skin and the possibility of a slight burning sensation as the sclerosing solution is injected into the spider vein.

After the procedure is completed, you will likely be asked to wear a compression bandage for a few days to increase the effectiveness of the treatment. During this time, the area must remain dry, and you must limit stressful physical exertion. Heavy lifting and running should be avoided, but regular walking will help to increase blood flow and healing time. Once the compression bandage is removed, some bruising of the area is common. It should disappear within a few weeks and the area should return to normal.

Another method used to remove spider veins is laser therapy. High-dosage pulsating laser is aimed at the veins and the light energy is absorbed by the veins, but not the surrounding tissue. The energy causes a coagulation of the blood vessel, which is then absorbed by the body.

Laser treatment of spider veins is sometimes rendered ineffective by the fact that spider veins may not be close enough to the surface of the legs to be reached by the laser.

For treatment of spider veins on the face, either sclerotherapy or laser treatments may be used. Laser treatments are more often successful on the face because of the more delicate nature of the skin. It is often also the most preferred treatment as the laser therapy causes less damage to the surrounding skin and tissue. The laser is aimed at the blood vessels and emits a high-dosage pulse of light into the vein, which collapses it and causes it to disappear. Often, two treatments using laser therapy are needed to make the facial spider veins disappear.

Laser treatments for spider veins are typically done on an out-patient basis in the doctor’s office or in a surgical suite. There is virtually no pain during laser treatment; most patients only report a mild tingling sensation in the area being treated.

Another method for treating spider veins on the face is hyfercation. Hyfercation is done using a thin cautery needle that is heated by an electric current. The cautery needle is then inserted into the spider vein and the heat obliterates the vein.

As with laser therapy, hyfercation is virtually painless. It, too, is usually done on an out-patient basis in the doctor’s office or a surgical suite.

With all methods of treatment for spider veins, the treated area may be swollen, appear reddish or purplish, and scabs may appear. It may be difficult to hide the effects of the treatment, but they should only last a short time. The overall results of therapy on spider veins are highly successful.

The risks of treatment for spider veins include blood clotting, “telangiectatic matting,” which is a new network of veins appearing around the treated area, discoloration, blotchiness, or inflammation of the veins. Discoloration and blotchy areas should disappear within a month.

Spider veins should not be confused with varicose veins. Varicose veins are larger than spider veins and usually appear as knotted or bulging veins, usually colored blue. They are most often quite painful. Most varicose veins require removal by surgery. Some varicose veins respond to sclerotherapy; however laser therapy and hyfercation are not suitable solutions. Varicose veins carry a high probability of being caused by a circulatory problem that needs to be addressed by a doctor to determine the most effective treatment.

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