Posted October 28, 2022 in Laser Treatment
Those blue or purple veins you see running up your leg and taking residence right around your knees and upper thighs are nothing more than a harmless condition known as spider veins. Are they unsightly? Yes. Can they be treated? Of course. Are they anything to be scared of? Absolutely not. Spider vein treatment is safe and effective.
Most women have spider veins to some degree, and depending on genetics, your lifestyle, and even how long you sit on any given day can influence why you see them more than your friend. Unfortunately, nine out of 10 women suffer from visible spider veins on their legs. But the good news is that they’re easy to fix.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are nothing more than small pigmented, dilated blood vessels. They are usually red, blue, or purple and can appear individually or as a small cluster with branches that extend outwards. Although they don’t pose any health risks (veiny and ropey varicose veins can), spider veins arise when blood flows in the wrong direction. The blood pools in the vein, hence their darker color, making them enlarged and dilated, which pushes the veins closer to the skin’s surface. The more superficial the veins are, the more visible their appearance.
Most often, spider veins develop on and around the knee and the upper thighs. However, some women also experience spider veins on the leg’s lower parts. In addition, broken capillaries, which look similar to spider veins, can materialize on the face and chest. Any strange lumps or bumps should be evaluated by a medical professional.
Why spider veins develop
There’s no one reason for the formation of spider veins, and often they are a multifactorial problem. The most common cause of spider veins is genetics (especially if your mother or grandmother has them). Still, age, gravity, poor blood flow, hormonal fluctuations, and even biotin supplements can bring them on. Some women see them during and after pregnancy, while others get spider veins from being on their feet all day or sitting cross-legged at a desk job. No matter the cause, the course of action to correct them is the same.
What is sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a spider vein treatment that permanently collapses spider veins. It uses a unique mixture of saline and a sclerosing medication (specific solutions are used depending on your skin tone to prevent hyperpigmentation) that, when injected into the vein walls, causes them to collapse. Over time, the body absorbs the veins, and they fade away. Some patients need a few sessions of sclerotherapy to eliminate the spider veins. One sclerotherapy session can entail upwards of about 40 injections to get rid of unwanted spider veins.
The procedure is quick and easy and takes about 10 minutes to perform. It’s also the most common way to treat spider veins effectively. The blood in the now collapsed vein is redirected to flow through a healthy vein, so there’s no issue with circulation or normal blood flow.
How laser therapy works
Sclerotherapy is effective, but it’s not the preferred method of improving teeny, tiny spider veins and broken capillaries on other parts of the body, like the face or chest. For these veins, high-energy light-based lasers are often the go-to. Although they work towards the same goal of more even-looking skin, the way a laser works is entirely different from how sclerotherapy works.
When a laser is the procedure of choice for eradicating spider veins, the energy or light emitted from the device is absorbed by the blood in the vein, which coagulates and seals it shut and then forces it to disappear. Your provider can use topical numbing cream to make the treatment more comfortable. However, most patients don’t report any pain or discomfort—just a quick snapping feeling on the skin that dissipates quickly. The more veins there are, the longer the laser treatment takes to complete, although the average treatment time is about 20 minutes.
Post-treatment, the veins may turn slightly darker than their initial color as they vanish. You may need multiple sessions to clear the skin of the spider veins and then repeat treatments in the future if they return.
Both sclerotherapy and laser spider vein treatment can significantly improve the appearance of bothersome spider veins. However, a medical evaluation is recommended to determine which treatment will be most beneficial based on the degree, coloring, and location of your spider veins.
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