Many Houston area women and men have spider veins, also called telangiectasias, which are small, dilated blood vessels near the surface of the skin. They appear most often on the face, nose and legs. There are two treatment options to eliminate spider veins: sclerotherapy (injection of a special fluid into the veins) and Intense Pulsed Light treatment. Both treatments cause disappearance of the veins. Although both treatments for spider veins will lighten the veins, they will not be obliterated with just one treatment. The number of treatments varies among patients, but the average number is three. These treatments are scheduled approximately four weeks apart.
Sclerotherapy, and Intense Pulsed Light, is used almost exclusively for treatment of small leg veins, ie, 5 mm in diameter or smaller, also known as spider veins. Larger veins, if not working correctly, need to be treated first by a general or vascular surgeon. These larger dilated blood vessels are more commonly referred to as varicose veins, and require a different form of specialized treatment.
What to Expect in your Sclerotherapy Treatment
During your sclerotherapy treatment, a special solution is injected through a thin needle into the vein(s) to damage the lining inside the vein, causing the vein walls to swell, stick together, and seal shut. No anesthesia is required for this treatment, and after healing has occurred the vein will no longer be obvious.
The special solution that is injected directly into the affected veins is usually salt water. You may experience some brief discomfort during the procedure, which can last about as long as 30 minutes. The number of veins that can be treated during a single sclerotherapy session depends upon their size and location, in addition to the overall health of the individual undergoing treatment. While the effects are permanent on existing problem areas, patients should expect to return for injections when new spider veins appear.
The legs and face can appear worse before the spider veins lighten up, which occurs after 5-7 days. Bruising can be covered with make-up. These telangiectasias usually do not recur; however, new ones may develop in other areas. Patients may require multiple treatments to completely remove all of their telangiectasias due to limitations regarding the number of veins that can be removed in a single procedure.
Sclerotherapy is an outpatient procedure that is performed in the familiar and comfortable environment of our professional office. Patients are sent home the very same day, and recovery time is minimal. Those who decide to undergo a sclerotherapy treatment should expect to abstain from intense physical activity for a few days after the procedure, before returning to their normal routine.
Q: What Is Sclerotherapy?
A: Sclerotherapy is a non-surgical injectable form of treatment for varicose and spider veins. This treatment addresses lymph and blood-vessel disorders that cause deformities in the veins.
In this method, Dr. Rich injects an irritant called a sclerosant into the targeted vein. Sclerosants are usually saltwater solutions. The irritant causes the collapse of the walls of the vein, ultimately causing it to fade away. This results in clearer skin that is free of prominent veins.
Q: What Causes Varicose Veins?
A: Varicose veins are caused by a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency (CVI). CVI occurs when the valves in leg veins no longer function correctly, making blood transfer between your heart and legs impossible. This results in blood pooling into your veins, forming a condition known as stasis.
CVI often occurs as a result of the aging process, extended periods of standing or sitting,infections, and certain genetic conditions like hyperhomocysteinemia (a higher-than-normal level of homocysteine, a naturally occurring amino acid).
Q: When Should I Consider Sclerotherapy?
A: Not everyone with spider veins needs sclerotherapy. In some cases, doctors will recommend that you undergo a lifestyle change or have non-prescription treatments to treat your condition. However, this is only applicable in times when your condition is not serious and can be amended easily.
Be sure to contact your doctor regarding sclerotherapy if you face the following symptoms:
- Your legs ache constantly.
- Your legs feel sore and heavy.
- You cannot walk for long durations.
- The skin on your legs is dry and patchy.
- You have rashes near your veins.
Q: Is Sclerotherapy Effective?
Studies show that sclerotherapy treatments have a 60% to 80% chance of eliminating damaged veins.Sclerotherapy is not a permanent solution for spider veins, and there is always a possibility of new veins appearing.
Contact Bayview Plastic Surgery to schedule a consultation with board-certified plastic surgeon Dr. Donna Rich.