Spider & Varicose Veins
Spider veins are dilated small blood vessels that have a red or bluish color. They appear mostly on the legs, but occasionally on the face or other parts of the body.
These darkened vessels can be short, unconnected lines each about the size of a large hair. Frequently, they are connected in a scraggly, “sunburst” or spider web pattern. Sometimes they occur in a small area and aren’t very noticeable. In others they can cover a large area of skin and be quite unattractive.Varicose veins are the larger relatives of spider veins, and they may actually rise above the skin surface. These larger vessels are more likely to cause discomfort. Some people experience pain that ranges from a dull throbbing to a burning sensation.
Although unwanted blood vessels carry blood, the great majority of them, especially spider veins, are not necessary. They are treated by injection of a solution that will cause them to disappear or become much smaller. Lasers also are used successfully as a treatment. There is about a 50-90 percent chance for a greatly improved appearance.
Can Spider Veins Be Prevented?
Spider veins can’t always be prevented, but here are some things that may help:
- Wearing support hose
- Regular exercise and keeping your weight at a normal level
- Eating a high-fiber diet and wearing low-heeled shoes
- Protecting yourself against sun exposure
Dr. Miller uses either a procedure called sclerotherapy or a laser to treat unwanted blood vessels. In sclerotherapy, a sclerosing solution is injected with a very fine needle directly into the blood vessel. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together and the blood to clot.Over a period of weeks, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades, eventually becoming barely noticeable or invisible. A single blood vessel may have to be injected more than once, some weeks apart, depending on its size. In any one treatment session a number of vessels can be injected.How Successful is Sclerotherapy?
After several treatments, most patients can expect a 50 to 90 percent improvement. However, fading is gradual. Disappearance of spider veins is usually achieved, but similar veins may appear in the same general area.In addition, larger veins are likely to recur unless support hose are worn. Spider veins may also recur. It may seem that a previously injected vessel has recurred, when, in fact, a new spider vein has appeared in the same area.Are There Side Effects to Sclerotherapy?
Side effects are possible and can include stinging or pain at the sites of injection, swelling of the ankles or feet or muscle cramps. Dr. Miller can explain all of the possible side effects.
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