When you look at the big picture, spider veins are a relatively minor issue compared to other vein diseases. However, spider veins can be unattractive and sometimes they do cause symptoms like burning or itching. Treatment is effective, takes little time and has minimal risks. Here’s the nitty-gritty on spider veins, from vascular surgeon Dr. Richard Kimmel and the Kimmel Institute, located in Boca Raton, Florida.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Unlike arteries, which are smooth inside, veins contain tiny flaps of tissue called valves. Each heartbeat pumps blood through an artery, but veins rely on muscle contractions in the legs to move blood, and on the valves to prevent back flow in the pause between heartbeats. The valves in the vein can weaken and stop functioning, which allows blood to pool in the vein – varicose veins. Spider veins are simply very small varicose veins. In addition to the legs, they may be located on the face.
What do Spider Veins Look Like?
Spider veins are usually quite visible, which is why it can be distressing when they show up on the face. When found behind the knee – a relatively common location – they often look like a cluster of dark purple or blackish, but very small, varicose veins. The veins are often distended and twisted, just like the larger versions. When they appear on the face, spider veins are more likely to look like tiny reddish star bursts or spider webs.
Spider Vein Treatment: Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment – usually considered the gold standard – for spider veins. The doctor injects a solution into the vein with a tiny needle. The solution is an irritant and makes the vein swell, then collapse. Pressure is applied for a week or so to help the vein scar closed. Eventually the vein is absorbed by the surrounding tissue. A sclerotherapy treatment is quick – usually about 30 minutes – although several treatments may be necessary depending on the number and location of the spider veins. Mild bruising and swelling may sometimes occur, and full healing takes several weeks.
Spider Vein Treatment: Lasers
Lasers offer another treatment option for spider veins. The laser heats the vein wall through the skin, causing the vein wall to collapse in the same way as happens with sclerotherapy. Lasers don’t affect the skin itself, only the vein. This type of treatment is often even faster than sclerotherapy and can be used for veins that are so fine they are difficult to treat with sclerotherapy. Laser therapy is effective for all skin types. Preparation and recovery are similar for both types of treatments.
Spider veins can be dealt with quite easily in today’s medical world. If you live in Boca Raton or the surrounding area, please contact us to schedule a free venous consultation at the Kimmel Institute. We can also answer any other questions you may have about scheduling, preparation, recovery or payment. Please be aware that spider vein treatment is considered cosmetic by many insurance companies, which means you may need to make alternate payment arrangements.