Many patients bothered by the appearance of spider veins on the legs or the face wonder how bothersome getting rid of these annoying blood vessels might be. In fact, physicians perform spider vein treatment on an outpatient basis, and it’s easier than ever. Understanding the therapeutic options is an important step in deciding whether to consult a vascular surgeon about treatment.
Spider Vein Treatment Options
Many physicians prescribe compression stockings for patients with spider and varicose veins in their legs. Although generally helpful in preventing new veins from developing, these stockings do not eliminate veins already present. Patients with spider veins have two options—sclerotherapy and laser technology—for getting rid of them, according to the Mayo Clinic.
The so-called gold standard of spider vein therapy, particularly for vessels in the legs, is sclerotherapy. During a sclerotherapy session, the physician uses a fine needle to inject a special substance known as a sclerosant into targeted spider veins. This is a very simple procedure performed in a vein clinic or a doctor’s office.
Once injected, the sclerosant irritates the walls of the vein, causing them to close. Eventually, the vein disappears. The Cleveland Clinic notes that multiple sclerotherapy sessions might be required to get the best results. For patients who prefer to steer clear of needles or who are not ideal candidates for sclerotherapy, the remaining option is laser therapy.
How Laser Treatments Work
Depending on a patient’s circumstances, a vein doctor might opt to perform laser treatments alone or combine them with sclerotherapy. Surface laser therapy is useful for both spider veins and certain small varicose vessels, though generally less effective than sclerotherapy.
The Office on Women’s Health explains that laser technology emits strong burst of light. These bursts penetrate the skin to reach each targeted vein. The energy from the laser causes a vessel to fade slowly, then disappear.
Laser therapy is noninvasive and uses no needles. Elimination of vessels often requires multiple sessions, each of which lasts about 15 to 20 minutes. Destroying veins in the legs typically requires two to five sessions.
The primary drawback to this type of treatment for spider veins is that it is not appropriate for all skin types and tones. To reduce discomfort from the heat produced by the laser, physicians use various topical anesthetics.
Some of the potential side effects from laser therapy include:
- Swelling or skin redness that goes away after several days
- Skin discoloration lasting up to two months
- Scars and burns, though rare
Lifestyle changes such as losing weight, bypassing tight clothing, and avoiding excessive periods of standing or sitting can help prevent spider and varicose veins. However, it is important for patients considering treatment for existing spider veins to realize that no therapy can prevent new abnormal vessels from forming.