Spider Veins Explained
What causes spider veins?
A number of factors can contribute to the development of spider veins including:
- Congenitally weak vein valves
- Hormonal changes that occur during puberty or menopause. Taking birth control pills can also contribute to the development of spider veins.
- Lack of exercise
- Sun exposure can cause spider veins on fair skinned individuals
How are spider veins removed?
There are a variety of different treatment approaches that can be used to get rid of spider veins. A number of spider vein treatment approaches are relatively non-invasive, utilizing injections, lasers, or radio-frequency waves to accomplish results. In all non-surgical removal scenarios, spider veins are removed by shutting off the blood supply to the offending veins. When the blood supply to the vein is closed off, the vein eventually dies, leaving behind just a thin scar that can eventually be absorbed by the body.
Surgical removal of spider veins is different from non-surgical procedures. The goal of most surgical treatments for spider veins is to actually physically remove the spider veins from the body. This can be accomplished in a number of ways using different techniques. Some surgical techniques require the use of general anesthesia while others require only local anesthesia. If your doctor recommends surgical removal of spider veins, talk with him or her about the potential risks and benefits of general versus local anesthesia.
Surgical removal of spider veins can be accomplished in one session which is usually between 1 and 4 hours, however, non-surgical removal of spider veins may require several sessions to see results. Usually, non-surgical treatment sessions take less time to complete and less recovery after the procedure.
Set up an initial consultation to talk with a doctor about the many different ways in which your spider veins might be removed.
What spider vein treatment approach is best for me?
Though sclerotherapy and laser treatments are the most popular spider vein treatment approach used today, the best spider vein treatment for you with depend on several factors:
- Where the spider veins are located on the body
- The size of the spider veins
- The number of veins to be treated
- Costs associated with different types of treatment
- Other symptoms associated with spider veins such as, aching, throbbing, heaviness, swelling, itching, restless legs, or darkening of the skin around the veins.
- The cause of the spider veins
Laser treatment is most often recommended for small spider veins and larger spider veins are typically given sclerotherapy, but your doctor will recommend a particular type of treatment for your spider veins based on your personal medical history and a variety of other factors.
What to Expect When Getting Spider Veins Removed
Most non-surgical treatment approaches will involve topical or local anesthetic to make the procedure more comfortable. Laser and sclerotherapy are treatment approaches that take little time and are relatively painless under most conditions. You can expect to have 2 to 5 laser treatments before seeing results and 1 to 3 sclerotherapy injections before the spider veins finally close up and disappear.
Surgical removal of spider veins is usually only utilized to removal larger varicosities. Patients are put under general anesthesia in some cases when spider veins will be removed using a surgical technique. However, using PIN stripping, patients may only be locally anesthetized, which significantly diminishes the dangers involved with having the surgery.
Non-surgical treatment sessions are usually fast, lasting only 30 to 60 minutes, although radiofrequency occlusion can take up to two hours. First, the target area to be treated will be cleaned with an antiseptic. Anesthetic may be appropriate and administered for laser treatments and ultrasound-guided spider vein treatments.
Your doctor will administer a small injection with micro-needles for approximately each square inch of spider veins to be removed if you are having sclerotherapy. You will not need anesthetic for sclerotherapy because the procedure causes little pain.
During laser treatments, lasers are aimed at skin in the target area, causing the veins to coagulate and shrink. Many patients describe the feeling as similar to a rubber band snapped against the skin. Topical anesthetic may be applied for laser treatments if patients are uncomfortable during the procedure. Often, the spider veins are darker after the treatment than they were before, but over two to six weeks following the treatment they will slowly disappear. Expect to see a 70% to 80% improvement in facial spider veins after each session and a 30% to 40% improvement in the appearance of spider veins in the legs.
Ultrasound guided radiofrequency occlusion and endovenous laser treatment requires the administration of local anesthesia during the procedure. These procedures may take longer to perform than sclerotherapy or laser treatments for spider veins.