Several effective and minimally invasive treatments are available for varicose veins and spider veins. These procedures can eliminate problem veins so your legs look and feel better. Do they treat the underlying cause of varicose veins and spider veins for a permanent cure?
How permanent are vein treatments?
There are two things to consider when asking whether vein treatment offers a permanent cure. One is whether a treated vein will become a problem again. The other is whether new problem veins will develop later on.
With treatments that close off the varicose veins, there is a chance that the vein will reopen, allowing blood to flow through it again. This is the case with sclerotherapy, surface laser therapy and IPL, and endovenous ablation.
It is rare for spider and smaller varicose veins treated with sclerotherapy to reopen later on. If they do, it may be because the procedure wasn’t done properly.
Surgical techniques like vein stripping and phlebectomy remove the vein entirely, so there is no vein there to reopen. However, it is not uncommon for veins that have been removed to grow back years later. Also, if the vein is not completely removed, veins leading from the remaining segments of the treated vein may become varicose.
Treatment options for vein disease
Treatments for varicose veins involves either closing off the vein or removing them from the body. In both cases, blood will naturally flow through other healthy veins in the leg. Treatments include:
- Sclerotherapy. A liquid or foam chemical is injected into the vein, which causes the walls of the vein to swell and stick together. The vein then seals shut. Over time the vein will turn into scar tissue and fade away.
- Surface laser therapy. Focused light from a laser is used to heat the vein, which causes it to close off and eventually disappear. A similar procedure, called Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) therapy, uses less focused light to do the same thing.
- Endovenous ablation. A small tube (catheter) is inserted into a vein. A probe placed in the tube uses laser or radiofrequency energy to heat the inside of the vein. The vein closes off and fades away over time.
- Ambulatory phlebectomy. The vein is removed with a small hook through several small cuts in the skin.
- Ligation and stripping. The vein is surgically tied off and completely removed through small cuts in the skin. This technique is not as common as it once was. Now doctors often use less invasive methods, such as endovenous ablation.
Spider veins can be treated with sclerotherapy and surface laser or IPL treatments. The best treatment for spider or varicose veins depends upon the size and location of the veins, as well as your skin color.
Early treatment may reduce other symptoms
Treating a larger vein can lessen the symptoms of varicose or spider veins that are connected to that vein. Likewise, if a larger vein with valve problems is not treated, this may worsen the symptoms in nearby varicose or spider veins.
When blood flows through a vein with weak or damaged valves, blood pools in the vein. This increases the pressure in the vein. It can also increase the pressure on smaller veins connected to the larger vein.
However, vein treatments don’t get rid of the underlying problem—vein disease—so there is a chance that other veins will become a problem later on. This is true for both surgical and less-invasive procedures. There is no "cure" for spider and varicose veins, but there are many minimally-invasive procedures available for most patients.
What are spider veins and varicose veins?
Varicose veins are swollen, twisted veins that are visible just beneath the surface of the skin. They can be blue, red or flesh-colored. They can form anywhere, but often appear on the thighs, backs of the calves and the inside of the legs.
Spider veins and varicose veins are similar, but spider veins are smaller and look like spiderwebs or tree branches. They are often blue or red. They show up closer to the skin’s surface than varicose veins. They can appear on the legs and face.
Varicose veins form in veins that have weak or damaged valves. The valves normally keep blood from flowing backwards in the vein. When they don’t work properly, blood can collect and pool in the vein, giving it a swollen appearance and cause other symptoms.
Spider veins are caused by blood backing up in these smaller veins, sometimes as a result of other vein disease. Spider veins can also be caused by exposure to the sun, hormone changes and injuries.
Updated Oct. 16, 2017