Get Rid Or Your Varicose & Spider Veins

If you are a man or woman who has developed either spider or varicose veins, you certainly aren't in the minority. According to the U.S. Department of Health, around 40% to 45% of all men in the U.S. and 50% o 55% of all women in the U.S. have a vein condition. Roughly 50% of everyone over age 50 will develop varicose veins. For those who suffer from spider veins, about 80% are due to hereditary factors.

While spider veins don't pose any serious health threat and varicose veins rarely do, they are often a cause of physical and emotional discomfort. Feeling good about how we look has a big impact on how we live our life, and living with noticeable spider or varicose veins can really detract from that. But there are several treatment options available for both types of vein disorders, so keep reading to see what's available and then speak with a qualified cosmetic surgeon.

Causes Of Spider And Varicose Veins

Spider veins usually form on the legs, ankles or feet. Sometimes they appear on the face, but that is more rare. They are usually pain free and tend to become more apparent as you age. Spider veins are usually red or blue in color, close to the surface of the skin and may look like spider webs, thus the name.  

Both spider and varicose veins are caused by blood backing up in your veins. Your leg veins have valves that are supposed to keep the blood flow moving towards your heart. But when those valves become damaged or weakened due to a medical condition or from hereditary factors, the blood can drain back through the valves and pool in your veins. This causes the veins to become swollen, red and even lumpy.

Some other causes include excessive sun exposure, certain injuries, hormonal imbalance, being overweight, sitting too much and not getting enough exercise and even being pregnant.

As we mentioned, spider veins don't really pose a big health threat, but their appearance can certainly be enough to justify a visit to the doctor. Because varicose veins are larger, they can cause pain, swelling in the leg, a rash, throbbing sensation, numbness and restless leg syndrome. If you experience any of these symptoms, definitely see your doctor because you could have a developed a blood clot. 

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

On the cosmetic side, the most common treatment option for spider veins is called sclerotherapy. Basically your cosmetic surgeon will inject a chemical solution (often a hypertonic saline solution) to cause the vein to become irritated and form scar tissue, shutting off the blood flow. This scar tissue makes the spider veins less visible. You won't need anesthesia and it can be done in your doctor's office.

Some potential side effects of sclerotherapy are some injection site pain, swelling, redness and in rare cases, trapped blood that will usually go away in a few days or can be drained by your doctor. You will need to avoid being on your feet a lot for about 24 hours after your treatment and probably wear compression stockings for a few days. Keeping the treated area out of the sun for a couple of weeks is also advised. The treatment can be repeated every 4 to 6 weeks as needed.

Another treatment option is laser therapy. Intense light from the laser directed onto the affected veins causes them to close up, which in turn makes the spider or varicose vein fade over time. You will have to be evaluated by your cosmetic surgeon to determine if your skin type and vein type will benefit from laser treatment. Varicose veins that measure more than 3mm won't usually respond to laser treatment. The laser treatments usually only take about 15 to 20 minutes and around 2 to 5 sessions are performed over time. Some patients have reported that the laser heat is uncomfortable to painful, so talk about any concerns with your doctor before treatment.

Another treatment combines lasers with radiofrequency. This is used for more extensive varicose veins. Your cosmetic surgeon will use a local anesthesia and insert a catheter into the affected vein, then insert a probe that will use either laser light or radiofrequency to heat the vein and seal it. Other veins nearby will compensate for the blood flow lost to closed-off varicose vein and usually the only side effect is some bruising.

Surgical Treatment Options

In the most severe varicose vein cases, surgery may be needed. Your cosmetic surgeon can completely remove the varicose veins from your leg using a couple of different procedures. With ligation your surgeon will make small incisions in your legs, close off the varicose veins and remove them. Blood flow will be taken over by nearby veins.

If your cosmetic surgeon performs PIN stripping, it means that small cuts will be made in your legs, a surgical device (PIN stripper) is attached to your vein and the vein pulled out of your leg.  

With ambulatory phlebectomy, small incisions are again made in your legs and the surgeon will use a small hook to pull out the varicose veins. This is probably the less invasive of the surgical treatment options. You will only have a local anesthesia and will usually be able to go back to work in a day or two. 

You will have general anesthesia with most of the surgical treatments and they will be performed in a hospital operating room, although usually on an outpatient basis. Recovery is anywhere from 1 to four weeks and your normal activities will be restricted during that time. 

Potential side effects from surgical varicose vein treatments can range from temporary bruising, swelling, numbness, site infection, formation of blood clots and skin discoloration.