Spider veins are dilated small blood vessels that have a red or bluish color. They appear mostly on the legs, occasionally on the face or elsewhere, and may often be unwanted. They can be short, unconnected lines each about the size of a large hair or connected in a scraggly, “sunburst” pattern. They may also look like a spider web or a tree with branches. Sometimes, they occur in a small area and are not very noticeable, or they can cover a large area of skin and be unsightly. Larger dilated blood vessels called varicose veins may be raised above the skin surface. They may occur along with spider veins.
Some people with unwanted blood vessels can have pain, ranging from a dull throbbing pain to a burning sensation. The larger vessels are more likely to cause discomfort. Although unwanted blood vessels carry blood, the great majority of them, especially spider veins, are not necessary. If they are unsightly or uncomfortable, they can be treated by the injection of a solution that will cause them to disappear or become much smaller. there is about a 50 to 90 percent chance for a greatly improved appearance.
Even with a highly experienced physician performing the treatment, there are some possible side effects.
If there is a history of blood clots in the lungs or legs, sclerotherapy may still be undertaken, but the procedure must be done with caution to lessen the risk of blood clots.
One of several kinds of solutions, called sclerosing solution, is injected with a very fine needle directly into the blood vessel. This procedure has been used for spider veins since the 1930s and before that for larger veins. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together and the blood to clot.
Over a period of weeks, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades, eventually becoming barely noticeable or invisible. The solutions available are slightly different and the choice of which solution to use depends on several factors including the size of the vessel to be injected. Your dermatologist will decide the solution that is best for your particular case.
A single blood vessel may have to be injected more than once, some weeks apart, depending on its size. In any one treatment session a number of vessels can be injected. As noted in the section on safety, some stinging or pain at the sites of injection may occur.
Depending on certain factors, such as the size of the blood vessels injected, patients may be instructed to put their legs up for an hour or two and then walk. Others are asked to walk immediately. All patients are instructed to walk a good deal in the days following the procedure so that blood will be pushed through other vessels. Sometimes the injected areas will be bandaged and the patient instructed to “compress” the treated vessels by wearing support hose.
This may help seal the treated vessels, keep the blood from collecting under the skin and reduce the development of dark spots. It also may reduce the number of treatments necessary, and the possibility of recurrence. Sometimes tape dressing is placed on the areas and compression is not used, unless the veins are large or have other characteristics. Between treatments, it is recommended that compression or support hose be used. This is particularly applicable for people who spend a lot of time on their feet.
Sclerotherapy works equally well on all skin types and skin colors. After several treatments, most patients can expect a 50 to 90 percent improvement. However, fading is gradual. Disappearance of spider veins is usually achieved, but similar veins may appear in the same general area. Larger veins are likely to recur unless support hose are worn. Spider veins may also recur. It may seem that a previously injected vessel has recurred, when, in fact, a new spider vein has appeared in the same area.
Leg Veins Before and After Sclerotherapy
Knees Before and After Sclerotherapy
Ankle Before and After Sclerotherapy
Breast Before and After Sclerotherapy
Forearm Before and After Sclerotherapy