Spider veins or telangiectesis of the legs are a common problem that particularly affects women. These veins appear as connected lines resembling a sunburst or spider web pattern or as short, unconnected lines.
Varicose veins are larger, sometimes raised veins which are often blue in color. These are not the deep veins connected with the valve system. Although these superficial varicose veins and spider veins carry blood, neither are necessary to the circulatory system.
Both telangiectasis and superficial varicose veins can be treated through a procedure called sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a technique which involves the use of a very fine needle to inject a solution directly into the veins. The solution causes the blood within the vein to disappear or become less obvious.
Common Questions about Sclerotherapy
What is the procedure like?
Larger veins are treated first. After cleaning the area to be treated, a syringe with a tiny needle is used to inject a small amount of sclerosing solution directly into a vein. The solution displaces the blood within the vein. The solution then causes the vessel to become irritated and swell shut, prohibiting the blood from reentering the vein. When the needle is withdrawn, pressure in immediately applied to the area. Each vein may require several injections and most disappear in two weeks to two months.
Is there any pain?
Patients reported little discomfort. Some experience a slight moderate burning sensation immediately after the injection, but it subsides within seconds.
What to expect after treatment?
Elastic stockings are advised to wear immediately after sclerotherapy. After resting the legs for a day, activities are limited to include decrease leg exercises for two weeks. Walking is encouraged because it increases blood flow through the other veins.
A small percentage of patients develop a network of tiny, pink vessels that turn white when pressure is applied. This condition, referred to as “matte telangiectasia”, usually disappears without treatment; however, injection treatment may be necessary in some cases. Occasionally, there are allergic reactions to the solution.
In some cases, spider veins recur and new spider veins present themselves. When large veins are treated, wearing support hose is recommended to prevent their recurrence.
What causes spider veins and varicose veins?
Some people are predisposed to having spider or varicose veins. Trauma to the leg in the form of blows or falls may contribute to the formation of these veins, and long periods of standing or sitting may also be a causative factor. More women than men seem to develop this condition, perhaps as a result of pregnancy or because of hormones. There have been no clear cut method to prevent the telangiectasis, however some believe the use of support hose, weight control, and exercise may be beneficial.