What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are like varicose veins but smaller. They begin as tiny capillaries and appear as blue or red squiggles. They are small red, blue or purple veins that commonly appear on the surface of the thighs, calves and ankles. It's estimated that at least one third of the adult female population is troubled with this common problem. People often seek treatment for spider veins because of cosmetic concern. However, it is also common for spider veins to cause symptoms, such as aching, heaviness, itching and night cramps.
Spider veins may be isolated or associated with “feeder” veins. They can also be associated with larger underlying varicose veins.
Spider veins usually take on one of three forms:
- They may appear in a spider shape with a group of veins radiating outward from a central point.
- They may appear in a pattern that resembles branches on a tree
- They may be in a linear pattern that appear as thin separate lines.
Certain factors contribute to the development of spider veins, including heredity, pregnancy, hormonal factors, weight gain, occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing, and trauma. Get more information on Causes and Prevention of Spider Veins here.
Spider Veins Treatment
Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins
A common form of treatment for spider veins is sclerotherapy. This is an in-office procedure where veins are injected with a solution, using small needles, which causes them to collapse and fade from view. The procedure typically improves not only the cosmetic appearance but associated symptoms as well. A few sessions may be required to obtain maximum benefit. During sclerotherapy, the affected leg is elevated to drain blood, and the sclerosant is injected into the spider vein. The procedure normally takes 5 to 30 minutes, depending on how many spider veins are treated. This form of spider vein treatment may be painful, and the chemical (sclerosant) that is injected can cause a feeling of burning or cramping for a few minutes in the area where the shot was given. You may need repeated sessions and many injections per session depending on the extent of the spider veins and type of sclerosant used.
Laser Treatment for Spider Veins
Lasers may also be used to treat spider veins. During laser treatment, intense light is directed to the veins, eliminating them permanently. Lasers are especially suited to treat small spider veins when a needle cannot be used.
Bruising usually occurs in the area treated after laser treatments and lasts for a few weeks. The cost of laser treatment for spider veins is usually higher compared to sclerotherapy.