Spider vein and varicose vein treatments can get your legs looking and feeling great, but if you have a vacation, wedding or other big event coming up then you need to plan ahead for recovery times so your legs will be fully healed and looking great by the time you step onto the beach or the dance floor.
Spider Vein Treatments
Spider veins (telangiectasia) are small, red or purple web-like veins that appear near the surface of the skin, often on the legs and ankles. Spider veins are caused by a weakening of the vein walls and the natural valves inside your veins.
Spider veins are not always just a cosmetic problem, but may be a symptom of other venous conditions. Your vein specialist can diagnose and treat any underlying venous condition you may have. Spider vein treatments are non-invasive and offer excellent cosmetic results.
When to Plan Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins
Sclerotherapy is a non-invasive spider vein treatment that uses an injection of a special liquid chemical to close your spider veins so they eventually fade away. Sclerotherapy is considered the gold-standard of spider vein treatment because it is effective and often less expensive than other treatments.
If you are considering sclerotherapy for your spider veins you should plan to start treatment at least 10 months before your vacation or big event to ensure you have enough time to get the best results.
Sclerotherapy can take multiple sessions. On average, sclerotherapy takes three to six sessions, spaced about three to six weeks apart.
Most of your recovery time will take place while you are waiting for your spider veins to completely fade. Your veins will start to fade immediately after treatment, but it can actually take several months for them to completely disappear and give you the best cosmetic result. Make sure to factor this into your schedule.
After sclerotherapy you can resume your normal activities immediately, and it’s actually recommended that you walk around as much as possible while you heal. However, you should avoid strenuous exercise for about 24-48 hours. Also, you’ll need to avoid direct sunlight on your treated legs for two weeks. You’ll also need to wear compression stockings during this time.
Some people who undergo sclerotherapy may develop fine red-colored blood vessels on the leg (matting) or a brown stain caused by blood trapped in the treated vessel. These can sometimes take months to years to completely go away. Your doctor can talk to you more about these potential side effects and how to alleviate them.
Planning Ahead for Laser and Light Spider Vein Treatment
Laser and light treatments for spider veins such as intense pulsed light therapy (IPL) use targeted beams of light to heat and close spider veins so they eventually fade away. These treatments aren’t always as effective as sclerotherapy, but they can have advantages for very tiny spider veins in sensitive areas such as the face or nose.
Laser and other light treatments require several sessions, spaced four to eight weeks apart to treat your spider veins. Plan to start treatment at least 10 months in advance of your upcoming trip. Your doctor can give you a more precise time-estimate after examining your spider veins and seeing how you react after your first treatment session.
Recovery after laser and light spider vein treatment is quick. You will be able to return to your normal activities on the same day, including exercise. Your doctor may ask you to wear compression stockings for one to two days, although this is not always needed. You should, however, avoid exposing your treated area to direct sunlight for up to two weeks.
Depending on your skin tone, you may have darkening or lightening of the skin within three weeks after the procedure. These side effects are usually temporary, but can last for up to a year. In rare cases, this discoloration is permanent. Your doctor can give you more information about possible skin discoloration and how to address it for best cosmetic results.
Varicose Vein Treatments
Varicose veins are larger, bulging and sometimes painful veins that are caused by a weakening of the vein walls and the valves inside your veins. Varicose veins can appear near the surface of your skin and also deeper inside your legs.
Like spider veins, varicose veins can be a symptom of other venous conditions that your doctor can diagnose and treat accordingly. Modern varicose vein treatments are minimally invasive and can produce great-looking results.
When to Plan for Endovenous Thermal Ablation
Endovenous thermal ablation (EVTA) heats and closes your varicose veins from the inside using a narrow wire-like catheter inserted into your varicose vein through a small incision. The large and deep saphenous veins are most often treated this way. The EVTA catheter tip can use either laser energy (EVLA) or radiofrequency energy (RFA) to heat the varicose vein. Both options produce the same results, and which type to use is often down to your doctor’s preference and experience.
You should plan to start endovenous thermal ablation treatment at least two months before your vacation or event.
Recovery from the procedure will take four to six weeks, during which time most bruising, discomfort and tingling will have gone away.
You’ll need to have a follow-up visit with your doctor after about six weeks. During this visit, your doctor may decide that you need other treatments such as sclerotherapy or phlebectomy (see below) for the best results.
After endovenous thermal ablation, you can resume many of your normal activities on the same day, including walking, but you should avoid heavy lifting and exercise for one to two weeks.
Most people can go back to work within three to four days, but you may need more time off if your job requires prolonged standing or heavy lifting.
You will also need to wear bandages for two to three days and compression stockings for one to two weeks to help your treated veins close and heal properly.
Planning Ahead for Ambulatory Phlebectomy
Ambulatory phlebectomy, (also known phlebectomy or microphlebectomy) is a method to remove varicose veins through tiny incisions along the vein using a special hook tool. Ambulatory phlebectomy is often performed alongside endovenous thermal ablation to get any remaining superficial varicose veins and achieve the best cosmetic results.
You will need at least a few months before your trip for full recovery after phlebectomy.
The incisions or punctures made during ambulatory phlebectomy are tiny and don’t require stitches, but it will take a few months for them to heal completely and the marks to fade.
You may need about six weeks for any potential bruising, discomfort, tingling or feeling of tightness in the treated leg to go away.
Recovery for ambulatory phlebectomy is similar to that for endovenous thermal ablation. You can resume many of your normal activities on the day of the procedure, but should avoid strenuous activities for one to two weeks.
You can return to work after three to four days, but if your job requires long periods of standing or heavy lifting, you may need more time off.
You will need to wear small bandages over the incisions for one to two days and compression stockings for one to two weeks.
How to Plan for Ultrasound Guided Foam Sclerotherapy
Ultrasound guided foam sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment to close large varicose veins and the deep saphenous veins in the leg. An injection of a special foamy chemical closes the vein and it eventually fades away. Your doctor uses ultrasound imaging to see and treat deeper varicose veins that aren’t visible on the surface of the skin.
Foam sclerotherapy can take six to 12 months to achieve optimum cosmetic results. This time-frame can vary and your doctor can help with a more specific time after diagnosing your varicose veins.
After treatment your leg will be bandaged for about one week and your doctor will have you wear compression stockings for around three weeks while you heal.
You can return to your normal activities after treatment, and are encouraged to walk around as well, but you’ll need to avoid strenuous activities and exercise for about 4-6 weeks.
Most people can get back to work in two weeks. This time-frame depends mainly on how you’re feeling, so you may need more or less time off of work.
Side effects of foam sclerotherapy are rare, but may include bruising, inflammation, skin discoloration, or trapped blood. Your doctor can address these potential issues on your follow-up appointment.
Updated on Sep. 25, 2017