Spider Veins

Spider veins are similar to varicose veins except smaller. These small red, purple and blue “threadlike” veins are found on the surface of the skin. They occur on the legs, but can also be found on the face. Spider veins vary in size and often look like a spider’s web or a tree branch. Spider veins are purely cosmetic issues and pose no threat to a person’s health. Since they are usually not associated with deeper vein issues, ultrasound tests are not required for routine cases.

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Common Risk Factors

  • Heredity – family history of varicose veins
  • Gender- Women are at a higher risk than men
  • Pregnancy- especially during the late term
  • Obesity
  • Excessive standing and sitting

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Beyond the obvious visible symptoms associated with varicose veins there are generally no adverse symptoms caused by spider veins. An unsightly appearance is the common cause for concern of patients.   

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Tests and Diagnosis:

An initial consultation with a vascular surgeon or trained technician can be conducted to determine if unsightly veins are spider or varicose. In some cases, spider veins could be secondary to varicose veins. During the consultation, patients are asked questions to help determine if the veins are likely to be spider or varicose. If visual and anecdotal evidence is not clear, an ultrasound may be recommended.

  • Ultrasound – an ultrasound is conducted to determine the size and location of varicose veins.  

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Treatment options

Spider veins are treated with sclerotherapy and cutaneous laser treatment. Spider veins, unfortunately are a lifelong battle for most patients. Even after successful treatment, the body tends to continue producing them. For this reason, most patients need intermittent maintenance treatments to keep their legs spider vein free.

Schlerotherapy is the most commonly used treatment for small varicose veins. This treatment involves injecting a small volume of liquid into the diseased vein, which causes inflammation of the vein walls, as a result the vein walls stick together and collapse. This solution effectively prevents the vein from working and consequently the vein stops carrying blood, and disappears with time. Schlerotherapy usually requires repeated treatments and can cause brown discoloration of the vein that may take up to a year to disappear.

Laser Schlerotherapy
As an alternative to injection schlerotherapy, laser schlerotherapy is used to treat spider veins. Laser is preferable where the veins are very fine. During this procedure, an intense powerful burst of light is delivered to the vessel, which heats the blood within it causing destruction of the vessel. Immediately after laser treatment your skin may be red with some tenderness. Generally over a period of 24 – 48 hours this redness will resolve. Patients do not require bandaging after laser therapy but need to wear elastic stockings daily.

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Will my insurance cover this procedure?

Because spider vein removal is primarily considered a cosmetic procedure, most insurance plans do not cover the procedure. However, spider vein surgery often qualifies for flexible spending account payments. We also accept all major credit cards to cover the procedures.

How many treatments will I need?

Every patient is different and requires an individual evaluation to determine the number of treatments and areas that need to be treated.

Will my spider veins ever come back?

Although we treat the spider veins at their source, the body usually continues to produce them. Most patients require intermittent retreatment of spider veins throughout their lifetime. Usually the spider veins don’t reappear in the exact same place.

Can light-skin and dark-skin be treated with lasers?
The infrared laser technology can restore skin color and remove unwanted veins with no long term discoloration of the skin. Every skin type from fair to dark can be treated effectively. Temporary redness may occur in some patients, but treatment regimens are adjusted to individual skin types.

Can I prevent further spider veins from reappearing?

When spider veins are hereditary, there may be nothing you can do to prevent them. However, spider veins that appear only during pregnancy may not reappear if there are no more pregnancies. Additionally, maintaining a healthy body weight and avoiding excessive standing or sitting, may help.

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