Spider Vein Q & A
What causes varicose and spider veins?
Veins are blood vessels that return blood back to the heart from all parts of the body. A major challenge for leg veins is that the blood in the legs needs to get back to the heart against the force of gravity when standing. In this position, muscle contractions pump blood upward when you walk. The leg veins have one-way valves to keep blood moving upward. When faulty valves do not close properly, they allow blood to flow backward in the veins when the calf muscle relaxes and cause blood to pool in the veins of the lower leg. This pooling leads to increased pressure within the veins, which causes them to dilate and elongate over time.
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is the treatment of choice for eliminating most unwanted leg spider veins and small to medium-sized varicose veins. Sclerotherapy is performed as an in-office procedure. Salt water or a chemical solution is injected directly into the abnormal veins with a small needle. The vein hardens and disappears. Following this 15 to 20-minute treatment, you can resume all activities. A support stocking should be worn during the daytime for a few days after the procedure to aid in the closure of the veins.
How should I prepare for my procedure?
- Eat a regular mealbefore coming to our office.
- You do not need to have anyone come with you to the procedure.
- If you take any blood thinner, including Aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), warfarin (Coumadin), Dabigatran (Pradaxa), or Rivaroxaban (Xarelto), please let us know as soon as possible BEFORE the procedure so we can discuss what needs to be done.
- Take all your regular medications on the day of the procedure.
- Make sure you have compression hose day of procedure.
What to expect after treatment?
- No Swimming for 2 weeks.
- Wash the injection sites with mild soap and lukewarm water.
- Don’t apply hot compresses or any form of heat to the treated areas.
- Avoid direct exposure to sunlight (including sun tanning and tanning beds).
- Avoid sweating or high impact activity for 72 hours.
Can varicose and spider veins return even after treatment?
Current treatments for varicose veins and spider veins have very good success rates. Over a period of years, however, more abnormal veins can develop because there is no cure for weak vein valves. Ultrasound can be used to keep track of how badly the valves are leaking (venous insufficiency). Ongoing treatment can help keep this problem under control.
The single most important thing one can do to slow down the development of new varicose veins is to wear gradient compression support stockings as much as possible during the day.