Spider veins are most often viewed as a cosmetic imperfection. However, they can also be an indicator of other venous disorders. Medical advances have their treatment accessible to more people than ever before. At Commonwealth Vein Center in Richmond and Colonial Heights, Virginia, we offer comprehensive diagnosis and treatment options so you can get rid of spider veins on your legs and get on with your life.
What Are Spider Veins?
With a name that comes from their resemblance to a spider’s web, spider veins appear as small web-like areas of discoloration. They most commonly appear on the legs, although they can also present in other areas of your body. Spider veins are the result of small amounts of blood pooling in surface veins and blood vessels. Burst blood vessels from extreme pressure are another cause.
Spider veins may appear purplish, red, or blue in color. Although they are not usually uncomfortable, their bright purple, red or blue appearance can cause embarrassment. They may cause you to try to hide your skin from view, which can lead to social withdrawal.
Most people consider spider veins harmless, and they usually are. However, they can also be an early indication that you are likely to develop varicose veins or other more serious venous disorders.
What Causes Them to Develop?
Spider veins on your legs result from blood pooling within your veins. Blood is supposed to flow one way through your veins. This flow is controlled by small one-way valves within your veins. Time and excessive pressure can cause them to wear out or become damaged, which results in your small amounts of blood flowing backward or pooling.
This can cause damage such as the weakening and distortion of vein walls. That results in the discoloration that you recognize as spider veins on your skin. Spider veins on your face, neck, and chest are more commonly caused by burst blood vessels just under the skin’s surface. Sun damage and excessive pressure within veins can contribute to this type of spider vein.
Are You Predisposed to Spider Veins?
Some people are simply more likely than others to develop spider veins. If any of these conditions apply to you, you should definitely take action to avoid spider veins:
- You have a family history of the spider veins or vascular disease
- You are overweight or obese
- You live with uncontrolled high blood pressure
- You have been diagnosed with a different vascular disorder
Commonwealth Vein Center’s vascular specialist can help you identify underlying factors that can contribute to spider veins and help you learn strategies to minimize their future development.
Can Spider Veins Be Prevented?
While it is true that some people are more likely than others to develop spider veins, it is not a foregone conclusion. Even if you have started to notice them appearing, these strategies can help you keep them from getting worse and may help you avoid developing new spider veins.
There are some lifestyle changes that may help ease symptoms of venous disorders like spider veins. These conservative options might be good if you don’t want to undergo a cosmetic or medical procedure. Many of these options to get rid of spider veins can also be used to reduce their effects.
Keep Feet Up
When you are seated, keep your feet elevated so that blood doesn’t pool. This is particularly important if you notice gradual swelling in your feet or ankles. If you experience swelling that comes on suddenly, you should call your doctor to make sure there are no serious underlying causes.
Try to avoid standing in one place for long periods of time. This will also reduce the amount of blood that pools in your lower legs.
Straining during heavy lifting or pushing can cause blood vessels to burst. Avoid this type of activity whenever possible.
Maintain an active lifestyle. This can help you avoid venous disorders in several ways. First, it boosts circulation and helps keep blood flowing. Exercise can also help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, which promotes overall cardiovascular health. When your blood pressure is at a healthy level, your veins are under less pressure.
Wear Compression Garments
Wearing compression stockings can help reduce the pooling of blood and swelling in your feet. They work by encouraging circulation in the covered area. Anyone can buy and wear these specialized socks which, thanks to their increased popularity, can be found in fun colors and designs.
What Are the Best Treatments to Get Rid of Spider Veins?
No matter how much you might want them to, once you have spider veins, they won’t simply disappear on their own. Whether you have noticed a few small lines or your spider veins on legs have become much more noticeable, there are treatment options to get rid of them.
Sclerotherapy is a very common treatment for venous disorders, including spider veins on legs. It has long been seen as the gold standard among vein treatments and has been performed in some form since the 1930s. Sclerotherapy is minimally invasive and generally considered safe.
How It Works
This treatment works by causing irritation and swelling within your vein, which is triggered by the injection of an irritant called a sclerosant. This causes it to become blocked. Once normal blood flow can no longer pass through the treated area, your body will divert it to other healthy veins nearby. Your treated vein is longer functional and will eventually dissolve and be absorbed into or expelled by your body.
Sclerotherapy treatment sessions are completed right in our offices in Richmond and Colonial Heights, Virginia. Most take 30 to 45 minutes, although the complexity and size of your condition will affect the time it takes to treat it successfully. Results are usually achieved over a period of several weeks as the vein dissolves.
Because sclerotherapy is minimally invasive, requiring only a small injection, there is very little downtime associated with it. You may be advised to avoid strenuous activity for a couple of days and wear compression socks during recovery, but very little specialized care is required after the treatment.
ClariVein® is a comprehensive, yet minimally invasive, treatment process. To achieve the desired results, a catheter is inserted into your vein. This is fitted with a special rotating tip that spins 360 degrees to strips the vein wall of protective cells. Once the wall is weakened, a sclerosant is injected into the affected vein.
This causes irritation and breakdown of the vein. ClariVein® is an attractive option if you have an allergy to lidocaine because it does not require an anesthetic.
If you are searching for a minimally invasive treatment, you should take time to learn more about VenaSeal. This treatment uses special medical-grade adhesives to seal off damaged veins quickly and comfortably. Veins are sealed almost immediately, so you will often see results more quickly than with some other minimally invasive methods.
How It Works
A VenaSeal treatment is a pretty straightforward process. The affected area is located and the adhesive is injected directly into it. Many people opt to receive a local anesthetic that will ensure you remain comfortable during the appointment.
We perform VenaSeal treatments in our offices. There is no downtime or formal recovery period afterward. In most cases, you will be able to get back to your regular routine quickly afterward. Wearing compression stockings may or may not be advised depending on your specific case.
VenaSeal results are not permanent, but they are long-lasting. In fact, they can effectively and safely remove spider veins on legs for around three years in most cases. Like other venin treatments, VenaSeal cannot prevent new ones from forming. As a result, you should adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors to minimize future damage and development.
Radiofrequency Ablation (RFA) is another popular treatment option. It is a minimally invasive treatment that harnesses the power of heat to destroy affected vein tissue. This is the same technology that is often used to treat damaged or inflamed nerves.
How It Works
During your treatment session, we will use a medical imaging device such as an ultrasound to locate the damaged vein. A catheter is then inserted into your vein and threaded toward the damaged portion. We apply heat from radiofrequency waves through the catheter as it is slowly and carefully eased through your vein.
The application of heat causes your treated vein to collapse and die. Blood flow will be diverted to healthy veins nearby as the vein is naturally absorbed into the surrounding tissue or expelled from your body over time.
RFA sessions typically take 45 minutes to one hour and are performed in our offices. A local anesthetic will be administered to help you remain comfortable during the process. You will likely be advised to wear compression stockings for several days after an RFA treatment. You may also be encouraged to elevate the treated leg to minimize any chance of bruising. You’ll want to avoid strenuous activity or intense exercise for at least a few days.
Which Treatment Is Right for You?
The decision on which treatment should be used to get rid of spider veins on your legs will ultimately be made between you and your doctor. However, some treatments are better at specific conditions than others. After a comprehensive exam, we can discuss which treatments are most likely to produce the results you are seeking.
Spider veins treatments are generally minimally invasive and highly effective. Most completely destroy the affected veins so that they will not reappear. VenaSeal is the only exception. However, it is the least invasive option, offers virtually immediate results, and gives results that last for several years.
When you come in for a consultation, be sure to share your concerns and ask lots of questions. We can help you find which removal option is right for your condition and lifestyle. While you may really want to get rid of spider veins on your legs, there are some precautions with any treatment. If any of these conditions apply to you, you should rethink or reschedule your spider vein treatment:
- You have a wound or infection at the treatment site
- You have recently given birth or are currently pregnant or breastfeeding
- You have very limited mobility that will make healing difficult
- You are experiencing or have a history of blood clots
Take the First Step Toward Clearer Skin
You’ve taken the time to learn about treatment options that can help you get rid of spider veins, now it’s time to learn which one might be right for you. If you are ready to take that next step, we are here to help. Contact Commonwealth Vein Center in Richmond and Colonial Heights, Virginia to schedule an initial consultation. We can work with you to find an effective treatment that fits your goals. Contact us today to take the first step toward clearer skin.