Treating Varicose and Spider Veins

Varicose and spider veins can appear on any part of the body including the legs, arms, and face.  While these veins are generally harmless, many people are embarrassed by their unsightly appearance. Luckily, treatment options like injection sclerotherapy exist that is both safe and effective when treating varicose and spider veins.

What Causes Varicose and Spider Veins?

In general, both varicose veins and spider veins are common symptoms of a broad reaching medical condition called venous insufficiency.  These veins appear on the body and to some people can be unsightly.  While leaving veins untreated poses no immediate health risk, people often opt to have these veins treated for cosmetic reasons.

Although similar in appearance, varicose and spider veins are very different.  The role of a vein is to carry blood from the heart through the body.  Sometimes, as the vein wears out, the valve allowing blood to flow through the vein becomes damaged.  When this happens, blood flow can be slowed, or even reversed.  Pressure builds up within the vein which causes tiny breaches throughout the vein in a spider pattern, thus causing spider veins to form.

Varicose veins usually appear to be thicker and can be twisted and knobby.  These veins are typically darker and can cause pain and bleeding.  While spider veins are usually benign, varicose veins can increase a person’s likelihood of developing a blood clot or developing a circulatory condition.

What Treatments are Available?

One of the most popular treatments to eliminate the appearance of varicose and spider veins is a process called sclerotherapy.  This process has been used safely and effectively since the 1930s.  During this procedure, a small amount of a saltwater solution is injected directly into the vein.  The solution irritates the vein, eventually causing it to collapse.  This causes the blood within the vessel to clot, eventually forming scar tissue.  With the scar tissue formed, the vein will gradually fade.  Injection sclerotherapy is widely available for patients, but is not recommended for those who are pregnant, or have had a medical history of blood clots.  This procedure can be performed on any part of the body including the legs and face.  If a vein might be used for a heart bypass procedure in the future, it will not be a good candidate for injection sclerotherapy.

Possible Side Effects

Immediately following the procedure, people sometimes report some mild symptoms which typically fade after a few days.  Side effects can include some light bruising or swelling at the site of the injection.  People also sometimes report a light itching feeling as the veins begin to collapse and dissipate.  Thicker veins that have been treated may appear to bulge, become raised and harden.  Eventually these veins will also fade, but it can take a few months for the procedure to take effect.