Unsightly spider veins can undermine a person’s self-confidence. Some of these unwanted vessels and their cousins, small varicose veins, cause medical problems in addition to cosmetic concerns. The most common way a vein doctor treats them is a procedure known as sclerotherapy. Finding out a bit about spider veins and what the treatment involves is important to understanding what makes a good candidate for this procedure.
What Are Spider Veins?
These small vessels most often develop on the legs and the face, according to The University of Chicago Medicine (UCM). They occur when small collections of blood vessels near the surface of the skin dilate. They usually look red or purple and take their name from their web pattern.
Spider veins develop more often in women than in men. They are similar to but generally smaller than varicose veins and usually develop closer to the skin’s surface.
What to Expect from This Vein Treatment
Vein doctors’ use of sclerosing agents to treat vein disease dates to the 1930s in the United States, the Cleveland Clinic says. Fewer than 10 percent of patients show no response to the injections used. A vein specialist is normally able to eliminate between 50 and 80 percent of targeted vessels during one vein treatment. Some patients return periodically for a session when new spider veins form.
After cleansing the area, the physician inserts a small needle with a specially manufactured sclerosing agent into the targeted vein. While most patients report little discomfort, MedicineNet.com indicates that some agents are more likely than others to cause pain.
Sclerosing chemicals harden, causing a vessel to either close or collapse. Eventually, it becomes invisible through the skin. Healthier veins nearby take over the destroyed vessel’s workload.
Who Are Good Sclerotherapy Candidates?
During a consultation, the physician determines whether this therapy is a good fit for a prospective patient. UCM says that good candidates exhibit these characteristics:
- Their expectations are realistic.
- They have not been pregnant or breastfeeding for at least three months.
- Their age is between 30 and 60.
- They can follow pre- and post-procedure instructions.
- They understand that the therapy will not prevent new veins from forming.
The Cleveland Clinic proposes three additional criteria. Patients are not good candidates for this procedure if they:
- Are bedridden
- Want vessels treated that could be used for future bypass procedures
- Have a history of blood clots or suffer from clotting issues that require an individual evaluation
General considerations for matching a patient to the best vein procedure include other factors such as overall health, medical history, extent of the disorder, estimated tolerance for a therapy, and an individual’s preference.