Spider VeinsThough the name sounds alarming, spider veins are merely veins that have dilated under the influence of increased pressure. Also known as telangiectasia, they are found closer to the skin surface than varicose veins and are smaller. Like varicose veins, spider veins twist and turn. They appear on the legs or face, are red or blue in color, and fan out like tree branches or spiderwebs.
Who is Affected by Spider Veins?
Because of hormonal factors, women end up with spider veins more frequently than men, regardless of age. Most spider veins begin in childhood but do not appear until adulthood. Factors that increase a person’s likelihood for developing spider veins are:
- Prolonged sitting or standing
- Weight gain
- Hormone replacement therapy or birth control pill use
What Can Be Done About Spider Veins?
Sclerotherapy is the most widely used medical procedure for the treatment of spider veins. During the procedure, your dermatologic surgeon injects a sclerosant medication into the problematic vein that causes the vein walls to harden and seal shut. The blood flow stops and the vein turns into scar tissue. Sclerotherapy is conducted in your dermatologic surgeon’s office and lasts an average of 30 minutes. Multiple injections and repeat treaments may be needed. The treatment can be painful, with a burning or stinging sensation common, but the discomfort usually passes in a few minutes.
During surface laser treatments, strong bursts of light are sent through the skin to the vein. This heats the vein and seals its walls, causing it to collapse and dissolve over time. One benefit of laser surgery is that it can be used to accurately target specific veins, leaving the surrounding tissues unharmed. Laser treatment is also conducted in an office setting, and lasts an average of 20-30 minutes. Repeat treatments should be expected, depending on the severity of the condition.
Possible side effects of sclerotherapy and surface laser treatments are swelling, bruising, sores, skin discoloration around the treatment site, and superficial phlebitis (vein inflammation).
After Spider Vein Treatment
Most patients are able to return to their normal activities immediately after treatment. Compression stockings may be recommended to provide relief by putting helpful pressure on veins. Regular activity and exercise is strongly recommended for individuals with spider veins, whether or not they receive treatment.
Please give us a call at Dr. Michalak’s office in Issaquah if you would like to set up a consultation to learn more about treatment options for spider veins. We’re located less than 20 miles from downtown Seattle. Please dial 425-391-2500 extension 7 for Genie, our cosmetic patient coordinator.