What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins - known in the medical world as telangiectasias - are small, thin veins that lie close to the surface of the skin. Although these fine veins are connected with the larger venous system, they are not an essential part of it.
A number of factors contribute to the development of spider veins, including heredity, pregnancy and other events that cause hormonal shifts, weight gain, occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing, and the use of certain medications.
Spider veins usually take on one of three basic patterns. They may appear in a true spider shape with a group of veins radiating outward from a dark central point; they may be arborizing and will resemble tiny branch-like shapes; or they may be simple linear and appear as thin separate lines. Linear spider veins are commonly seen on the inner knee, whereas the arborizing pattern often appears on the outer thigh in a sunburst or cartwheel distribution.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are larger - usually more than a quarter-inch in diameter, darker in color and tend to bulge. Varicose veins are also more likely to cause pain and be related to more serious vein disorders. For some patients, sclerotherapy can be used to treat varicose veins. However, surgical treatment is often necessary for this condition.
Who is a Good Candidate for Sclerotherapy?
Women of any age may be good candidates for sclerotherapy, but most fall in the 30 to 60 year old category. In some women, spider veins may become noticeable very early on - in the teen years. For others, the veins may not become obvious until they reach their 40s.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you may be advised to postpone sclerotherapy treatment. In most cases, spider veins that surface during pregnancy will disappear on their own within three months after the baby is born. Also, because it's not known how sclerosing solutions may affect breast milk, nursing mothers are usually advised to wait until after they have stopped breastfeeding.
Spider veins in men aren't nearly as common as they are in women. Men who do have spider veins often don't consider them to be a cosmetic problem because the veins are usually concealed by hair growth on the leg. However, sclerotherapy is just as effective for men who seek treatment.
What Results Can I Expect from Sclerotherapy?
It is unrealistic to believe that every affected vein will disappear completely as a result of treatment. After each sclerotherapy session, the veins will appear lighter. Two or more sessions are usually required to achieve optimal results.
You should also be aware that the procedure treats only those veins that are currently visible; it does nothing to permanently alter the venous system or prevent new veins from surfacing in the future.
What are the Risks of Sclerotherapy?
Serious medical complications from sclerotherapy are extremely rare when the procedure is performed by a qualified practitioner. However, they may occur. Risks include the formation of blood clots in the veins, severe inflammation, adverse allergic reactions to the sclerosing solution and skin injury that could leave a small but permanent scar.
A common cosmetic complication is pigmentation irregularity - brownish splotches on the affected skin that may take months to fade, sometimes up to a year. Another problem that can occur is telangiectatic matting, in which fine reddish blood vessels appear around the treated area, requiring further injections or even intense pulse light treatments to resolve.
What can I Expect During my Treatment?
A typical sclerotherapy session is relatively quick, lasting 15 to 45 minutes depending on the size and area of the veins being treated. After changing into shorts, your legs may be photographed for your medical records. You will be asked to lie down on the examination table and the skin over your spider veins will be cleaned with an antiseptic solution. Using one hand to stretch the skin taut, our highly trained staff will begin injecting the sclerosing agent into the affected veins. Bright, indirect light and magnification help ensure that the process is completed with maximum precision.
Approximately one injection is administered for every inch of spider vein - anywhere from five to 40 injections per treatment session. A cotton ball and compression tape is applied to each area of the leg as it is finished.
During the procedure, you may listen to music, read, or just talk to your practitioner. You will be asked to shift positions a few times during the process. As the procedure continues, you will feel small needle sticks and possibly a mild burning sensation. However, the needle used is so thin and the sclerosing solution is so mild that pain is usually minimal.
What can I Expect After my Treatment?
In addition to the compression tape applied during the procedure, tight-fitting support hose may be used to promote healing. The tape and cotton balls can be removed after 48 hours.
It's common to experience some cramping in the legs for the first day or two after the injections. This temporary problem usually doesn't require medication.
You should be aware that your treated veins will look worse before they begin to look better. When the compression dressings are removed, you will notice bruising and reddish areas at the injection sites. The bruises will diminish within one month. In many cases, there may be some residual brownish pigmentation which may take up to a year to completely fade.
Your activity will not be significantly limited in any way from sclerotherapy treatment.
During the period of time to complete your treatment program, prolonged sitting and standing should be avoided, as should squatting, heavy weight lifting and "pounding" type exercises, including jogging.
A one-month healing interval must pass before you may have your second series of injections in the same site. After each treatment, you will notice further improvement of your legs' appearance.
How do Lasers Eliminate Deeper, Larger Veins as well as Superficial ones?
Aesthetic Laser Care uses the high-energy Lumenis Nd:YAG laser to successfully treat spider and reticular veins. The near-infrared Nd:YAG (1064 nm) component obtains ideal penetration into the skin, providing unparalleled performance in the treatment of deeper blue vessels.
What are the advantages of Lumenis' Nd:YAG technology?
Lumenis' proprietary Nd:YAG technology provides synchronized pulsing action to selectively heat blood vessels of different sizes and depths. The wavelength of light and pulsing characteristics of the system allow the energy to easily pass through the melanin barrier, thus protecting the skin. This also allows treatment on any skin type at any time during the year. Furthermore, a few shots typically achieves complete closure and sealing of the vessels.
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