Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins
The preferred cosmetic treatment for beautiful results. Spider veins can negatively affect your life.
Throughout your body is a vast network of veins, arteries and capillaries that deliver blood and nutrients to cells while removing carbon dioxide and waste products. Blood circulates outward from the heart through the arteries, which branch out into capillaries, to bring oxygen and other important nutrients to tissues and organs. Veins then transport deoxygenated blood back to the heart. In order to do this, veins often have to work against gravity and contain valves that prevent blood from flowing backward. If these valves fail, blood cannot flow in the right direction and begins to pool, causing the veins to weaken, twist and darken. Depending on the size of the affected blood vessels, the result is either spider veins or varicose veins.
Small unsightly veins that can be found in a number of areas on the body and can be troublesome for many. Whether it be for health reasons or cosmetic reasons, there are treatments that can drastically improve the appearance of areas where they’re noticeable. Spider veins are typically found developing on the legs and can be an unsightly view. If you’re plagued by these web-like veins there’s no reason to believe that you have to live with them. There are several options available for treatment. Among these options is sclerotherapy, a minimally invasive approach that produces long-lasting results.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Spider veins occur when small veins near the surface of the skin are affected by malfunctioning valves and are a symptom of venous insufficiency. Venous insufficiency is a condition that occurs when valves in the veins no longer function properly and may be caused by factors such as aging or genetics. When blood has difficulty returning to the heart, it accumulates in the damaged blood vessels. The pooling blood causes a visible web-like pattern of veins to develop and can be problematic and unsightly for many patients. Although venous insufficiency can affect anyone, women experience the problem more than men. According to a study published in 2015 in the Aesthetic Surgery Journal, spider veins occur in 41 percent of women over the age of 50. A number of factors can predispose someone to spider veins, including:
- Venous insufficiency
- Prolonged sitting or standing
- Sedentary lifestyle and obesity
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, birth control)
- Poor circulation or inflammation
A history of blood clots and smoking are also risk factors for spider veins. These fine red, blue or purple lines can also cause uncomfortable symptoms for some patients and are cosmetically unappealing. While pain associated with spider veins is often uncommon, a bothersome sensation can develop over time. A vein care specialist can help with these symptoms and at the same time improve the appearance of areas affected by spider veins. Dr. Jimenez of The Vein Center of Florida and The Vein Center of South Baldwin performs sclerotherapy injections to treat unsightly spider veins, blue “feeder” reticular veins and some smaller varicose veins. During your consultation, Dr. Jimenez will offer an assessment of your veins and recommend an appropriate sclerotherapy treatment as needed.
Sclerotherapy Vein Treatments
Dr. Jimenez has helped numerous patients in the Florida Panhandle and along the Emerald Coast achieve excellent cosmetic results with sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a fast, effective way to treat spider veins that involves injecting a specially formulated sclerosing solution into the affected veins. This procedure closes off and collapses them so blood can reroute through healthier blood vessels. Treated veins are absorbed by the body and fade so they are no longer visible. Since the 1930s, this procedure has been the preferred nonsurgical treatment for spider veins.
At The Vein Center of Florida, Dr. Jimenez performs all sclerotherapy injections himself. The treatment is a simple, comfortable and minimalistic approach to vein care, working from the surface of the skin without disrupting the tissues and supporting a natural healing process. Sclerotherapy provides many benefits over other procedures, including:
- No anesthesia
- Comfortable, convenient treatments
- Minimally invasive with no downtime
- Performed in-office with Dr. Jimenez
Injections are performed in-office and appointments generally take less than 30 minutes. The fast-acting medication is delivered directly into the veins and begins working immediately. Sclerotherapy is preferred over laser procedures for the cosmetic improvement of spider veins (telangiectasias) or burst capillaries in the legs. Before your treatment, you will be thoroughly evaluated to determine the best course of action depending on your unique needs.
Preparing for Sclerotherapy
Before having a sclerotherapy performed you should not shave your legs or apply any ointments or lotions to the skin 24 hours prior to the procedure. As well, any aspirin medications shouldn’t be taken before treatment because they run the risk of increasing bruising in the area where a sclerotherapy is performed. It’s recommended to wear loose-fitting shorts on the day of the procedure and to bring compression stockings along with you because they will be worn immediately after the procedure. If you do not have compression stockings, you may obtain them at the office on the day of the procedure.
Long hours of travel, whether by car or plane, should also be postponed after the procedure because they run the risk of affecting the treatment and may increase the chance of complications.
Depending on the severity of spider veins, a specialized ultrasound may be needed to determine the site of venous insufficiency. If the spider veins only cover a small portion on the body, then an ultrasound is rarely performed.
Is Sclerotherapy Safe?
Spider veins affect superficial veins, which means they are not paired with an artery. When spider veins are treated with sclerotherapy, circulation is not negatively affected and blood is simply rerouted through healthy veins. Sclerotherapy is a safe, minimally invasive and effective treatment for spider veins and is an option for most patients. The procedure produces very little discomfort and side effects are minor with no downtime. Some patients may experience mild bruising, stinging, or swelling at the injection site, but these symptoms quickly fade. Adverse side effects are extremely rare and Dr. Jimenez will go over the benefits, risks and safety of the treatment in more detail during your consultation appointment.
Occasionally, brown areas may develop near the treatment area, but these typically fade weeks to months after treatment. Rarely, these can remain for a longer period of time or become permanent. Other rare side effects include an allergic reaction to the sclerosing solution used or development of blood clots.
When properly performed, sclerotherapy provides for long-lasting results with a high rate of patient satisfaction. Sclerotherapy treatments target not only one branch of spider veins, but multiple branches connected to one starting point simultaneously. Patients typically will see results shortly after the procedure, but will also notice improvements that continue over the next few months. As treated veins collapse and are reabsorbed by the body, blood is rerouted to healthy blood vessels in a process that may last between six and eight weeks.
For optimal results, patients may require a series of treatment sessions. If multiple treatments are needed, sclerotherapy injections are typically performed in intervals at a frequency of four to six weeks. The number of appointments will depend on the needs of each individual patient and the quantity of spider veins requiring treatment. Sclerotherapy can eliminate existing spider veins, but cannot prevent new ones from forming due to venous insufficiency or other factors.
To prevent veins from forming again, lifestyle changes can be greatly beneficial. Exercise and proper diet allows for proper blood flow and circulation, prompting the body to maintain healthy-looking veins.
Sclerotherapy is not recommended for the obese. Excess weight contributes to the development of spider veins. Removing the veins without the loss of weight will only cause them to redevelop. As well, sclerotherapy can’t be performed on those that are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Sclerotherapy Recovery & Aftercare
Following the procedure, recovery is minimal and most patients are able to return to work or other regular activities shortly after their treatment. Generally, short term use of compression stockings is recommended to help the body redirect blood flow. Otherwise, there are very few restrictions after sclerotherapy, but there are a few things patients should avoid for the first week or two after their treatment, such as:
- Sun exposure on treated areas
- Hot saunas or baths
- High impact aerobic exercise
- Lifting weights and other strenuous activity
- Aspirin and other anti-inflammatory drugs
- Hot compresses
To maintain your legs or wherever spider veins were noticeable prior to a sclerotherapy, there are several things to do that are recommended:
- Begin using sunscreen regularly. The sun irritates the skin and can affect veins found near the surface if the experience prolonged exposure.
- Begin exercising. A daily exercise regimen will promote blood circulation and increase vein strength.
- Stop crossing your legs and elevate them more often. Crossed legs restricts blood flow and elevating your legs increases circulation to the heart.
- Avoid sitting or standing for long periods of time. If you’re required to sit or stand for long amounts of time, it’s recommended to get moving or changing your position every 30 minutes.
- Avoid wearing high heels. A shoe with a low heel promotes blood movement.
Smaller spider and varicose veins respond best to sclerotherapy and you can expect those to be visibly improved after several weeks. Sometimes multiple treatments will be required in order to fully reach desired outcomes.
Sclerotherapy is generally a minor, noninvasive procedure that’s used to combat small veins. Any side effects are generally rare and the procedure produces effective results. Dr. Jimenez will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions and advise you on what to avoid after your sclerotherapy treatment to ensure optimal results.
Are You Ready to Get Rid of Your Spider Veins?
While spider veins are not normally a medical condition that requires immediate care, the cosmetic appearance can be troubling for many. If you have spider veins that are unsightly or uncomfortable, take the next step with cosmetic sclerotherapy with Dr. Jimenez at the Vein Center of Florida. Whether you’re in Pensacola, Destin, Foley, or anywhere along the Emerald Coast, The Vein Center is here to help you. Call (850) 607-7570 to request your complimentary vein screening today.