What are Spider Veins?
Small spider veins (varicose veins) are fine red to blue veins that resemble tree branches or spider webs, and are most commonly found on lower legs. Reticular veins are larger blue or green veins that are found deeper in the skin. Although they are not harmful for your health, they can be unsightly and cause some to feel self-conscious, especially with shorts and/or bathing suits.
There are many factors that can cause these veins to arise:
- Heredity: Approximately half of the people who get varicose veins have a family history of them.
- Gender: Women are two to three times more likely to develop varicose veins than men. Up to half of American women have varicose veins. Changes in hormones due to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or taking birth control pills may increase a woman’s risk of developing varicose veins.
- Pregnancy: During pregnancy, the growth of the fetus increases the pressure on the veins in the legs. Varicose veins that occur during pregnancy usually improve within 3 to 12 months following delivery.
- Overweight and obesity: Having extra weight on the body can put additional pressure on the veins.
- Prolonged standing or sitting.
The gold standard spider vein treatment to eliminate unwanted vein appearance is an in-office procedure called sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure performed in the office setting. Each treatment typically lasts for 15-30 minutes, depending on the number and complexity of veins.
A solution called Asclera® (polidocanol) is injected into the spider or reticular vein, which causes local irritation to the vessel wall with resulting closure of the vein. Asclera (polidocanol) is solution that is injected into spider and reticular veins that has been used in Europe safely for over 40 years and was approved in the US by the FDA in 2010. Asclera has the advantage over other solutions for sclerotherapy, due to its high effectiveness and the reduced potential to cause pain and damage to the surrounding skin.
Our dermatologists use the thinnest needle, which allows even the most needle phobic patient to tolerate the procedure without significant discomfort. With time, the veins are then replaced with normal appearing tissue.
The number of treatments required varies based on number and complexity of the unwanted veins. On average, 30-50% of the treated veins disappear after a single treatment. It is recommended to schedule additional treatments in 6 week increments to allow for maximal benefit of sclerotherapy.
After the procedure, there is minimal discomfort with little recovery time. It is important to wear prescription compression stockings consistently for 1 week to maximize sclerotherapy effects while maintaining the closure of the veins. Additionally, it is important to walk every day, but wait for 3 to 5 days after the procedure to perform heavy exercise.
Facial Spider Veins
Injectable treatments for spider veins are not commonly used on the face. For small veins on the face (for example around the nose) our dermatologists commonly suggest Diolite laser treatment, which is available at our Brodie Lane office. The Diolite laser is able to target the very small vessels on the face that are often too small for injections.
Cost of Treatment
Sclerotherapy is considered a cosmetic procedure, and therefore is not covered by insurance. The cost is $350 for an initial 30-minute treatment session, and $200 for 20-min follow up sessions. Each patient is different, however it’s common that several sessions are needed.