We do everything we can to keep ourselves and our skin in as good condition as we can. We eat well, stick to an exercise routine and treat our skin well–protecting it from damaging UV rays, keeping it moisturized and looking for abnormalities. So, when unsightly varicose or spider veins are making you feel self-conscious, you don’t have to live with them. Call the expert and professional staff at Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights and Richmond, VA and ask them about sclerotherapy.
What Are Varicose and Spider Veins?
If you have unsightly veins on your legs, you may suffer from varicose or spider veins. Varicose veins appear as twisted blue, skin-colored or red veins. If it’s a larger vein, it may appear rope-like and give the skin a bulging look. You are most likely to develop varicose veins in these areas:
- Back and front of calves
- Inside the legs by the ankles and feet
- Inner thigh, pelvic area, and buttocks of pregnant women
Spider veins, also called thread veins, appear smaller than varicose veins. These appear red and may look like spider webs or tree branches. Spider veins are visible under the skin but do not bulge out. Spider veins typically appear on the legs and the face.
What Causes Varicose and Spider Veins?
Your veins have valves that act as one-way flaps. Your heart pumps blood filled with oxygen via arteries to your entire body. From there, veins carry the blood back to the heart. If a vein has a faulty one-way valve, some blood can leak back into the lower portion of the vein, not making it back to the heart.
As time passes, more blood gets trapped in the vein, causing pressure and weakening the walls of that vein. All this extra blood can cause the vein to grow larger. Women are twice as likely to develop these veins than men. Varicose veins appear more often in older women, while spider veins affect over 50% of women of all ages. There are situations that make someone more likely to develop these veins:
- Having a personal or family history of the condition
- Sitting or standing for long periods of time, over time
- Being overweight or obese, which puts extra pressure on these veins
- Getting older, since the valves in our veins can weaken over time
- Using birth control or hormonal replacement therapy, as estrogen may weaken vein valves
- Blood clots or vein scarring
Both types of veins are most likely to appear on the legs because those veins have to work against gravity to carry blood back to the heart.
What Are the Symptoms of Varicose or Spider Veins?
The most common symptom is just the unsightly appearance, but these veins can sometimes cause discomfort. If they do cause discomfort, see your doctor just to be on the safe side. Other symptoms you should talk to your doctor about include:
- A vein becomes red, swollen or tender and warm to the touch
- The skin on your calf or ankle changes color
- Bleeding occurs in one of your varicose veins
- You develop a rash or sores near your ankle
- Any symptom keeps you from doing or makes your daily routines uncomfortable
The most negative side effect for most of us is just appearance and how uncomfortable or self-conscious that makes us. There is a treatment with a proven track record that can eliminate these veins and give you back your smooth tone and look—sclerotherapy.
What Is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment to address spider and varicose veins. This treatment involves injecting a solution into the vein. The special solution is designed to irritate the veins, causing them to close up. The blood that normally went through that vein is then rerouted to healthy veins. When the problem veins close up, they turn into scar tissue and fade away, no longer causing you an aesthetic issue.
What to Expect
After a consultation with your provider to determine if you’re a good candidate for this therapy, you’ll make an appointment convenient for you. There is no real preparation for the treatment. Your provider may ask you to stop taking any blood-thinning supplements or over-the-counter medications like aspirin, ibuprofen or naproxen for about a week just to prevent bruising.
On the Day
On the day of your treatment, the area to be treated will be sterilized and cleaned before the session begins. Next, you will lie down with your legs elevated and the injection will be given at the target site. Most treatment sessions only last 10-15 minutes depending on the size and the number of veins to be treated. Because it’s minimally invasive, there really isn’t any downtime.
You may have some aftercare instructions, including wearing compression garments to facilitate better blood flow. When your blood circulates better, the veins close faster. You may be instructed to walk around immediately after the treatment to better circulate the solution through the vein. Staying out of direct sun, saunas, hot baths and swimming pools for a few days might also be recommended.
The great news is that the results are permanent. Once one vein turns to scar tissue and dissolves from sight, it’s gone for good. This therapy won’t prevent more varicose or spider veins from forming, but it also doesn’t make it more likely that they will.
You can expect smaller spider veins to respond to sclerotherapy in three to six weeks, while larger varicose veins may take three to four months. Talk to your doctor about how many sessions you may need to treat all of your spider and varicose veins. If you have a lot of them, you may need to schedule multiple sessions. Talk to your doctor about things you can do to make getting these veins again less likely.
Who Is a Good Candidate?
Only you and your medical specialist can decide if this treatment is right for you. During a consultation, your doctor will examine the veins in question and go over your health history. Typically, varicose and spider veins that aren’t causing any real discomfort are great candidates for this kind of therapy.
Other Vein Treatments
Sclerotherapy isn’t the only treatment for varicose and spider veins. Talk to your doctor about all the options available to you.
This treatment uses heat to eliminate varicose veins. Ablation uses targeted heat to damage tissue, just like in laser skin resurfacing. For venous ablation, the heat is used to close the vein with the faulty valve. This is a minimally invasive, in-office treatment.
Before your session, they may administer a local anesthetic just to maximize your comfort. During the treatment session, thin incisions are made and a small tube is inserted into the vein. This tube allows the radiofrequency energy to heat the walls of the vein from the inside. The heating causes the vein to collapse.
Just like with sclerotherapy, you will be given compression stockings to wear, increasing blood flow so the vein closes faster. You may be asked to limit certain activities for a few days, like strenuous aerobic activity or weightlifting, but walking around immediately after is encouraged.
We’ve talked about a few treatments that use one form of addressing varicose veins. ClariVein is different because it uses two forms of treatment, making it a hybrid. During treatment, the ClariVein device, which features a tip that rotates 360 degrees, is inserted into the vein. While the tip rotates, a special solution is injected into the vein.
While the tip is spinning, it’s removing the cellular wall of the vein, allowing the solution to better irritate the vein, forcing it to close up. Because of the dual action of this treatment, results can be much better than singular treatments alone for specific varicose veins. It also doesn’t require the use of lidocaine, so if you’re allergic, this is a great option.
Varithena is another great option for patients wanting a minimally invasive treatment to address all the symptoms of varicose veins, including associated pain. This is an injectable treatment that requires no incisions. Varithena is a micofoam injected into the vein, causing it to collapse. Blood is then rerouted to other veins, and the problem vein becomes scar tissue and dissolves away.
This is a great option for patients because the treatment is relatively short, taking only about an hour, and you can return to your normal activities immediately after. Compression stockings will need to be worn for about two weeks to keep your blood flow to the area increased. You will also be asked to avoid strenuous activity for about a week after treatment.
Other Leg Aesthetics
Once you’ve taken care of your varicose and spider veins, consider rounding out the treatment to your legs by addressing stubborn cellulite. Looking at cellulite when you do your best to eat well and exercise can be disappointing, frustrating and disheartening. Talk to your doctor about a referral for SculpSure.
SculpSure is a non-invasive body sculpting treatment that can be used on many parts of the body, including your legs. It uses light-based technology to target and destroy fat cells. During treatment, the device is placed on the area to be treated. Initially, patients will feel a cooling sensation that will be on during the entire treatment to ensure the skin stays comfortable.
A laser will cycle on and off, raising the temperature of the fat cells. You may feel a deep warmth or tingling, but no pain. Treatments last about 25 minutes and there is no downtime—you can resume your daily activities immediately.
You’ll achieve your desired results over the weeks and months to come as your body absorbs and flushes out the dead fat cells. This treatment doesn’t carry with it any of the risks or complications that can be associated with surgical procedures. While some clients may get their desired results in just one treatment, others may opt for several sessions to achieved maximum results.
Laser Hair Removal
Shaving your legs may be part of your everyday life, but what if it didn’t have to be? If you’re taking care of the veins on your legs, there’s a solution for having to shave day in and day out just to avoid uncomfortable stubble—laser hair removal. Talk to your doctor about this long-lasting, time-saving treatment that can eliminate razor cuts, wax burns and ingrown hairs.
Call for a Consultation
If you’ve decided you want to have the spider and varicose vein-free legs you’ve been dreaming of, take the first step and call the experts at Commonwealth Vein Center in Colonial Heights and Richmond, VA. They are committed to partnering with each patient to ensure they receive the right treatment to achieve their goals. A new, more confident you is just a call away.