Getting a "Leg-Up" On Spider Veins and Varicose Veins
If you've been trying to hide those red, blue, or purple spider veins on your thighs, calves, ankles, or even your face you're not alone.
Spider veins, telangiectasias, spider angiomas, and benign vascular lesions are all actually dilated blood vessels. They are most common on the legs, but also may appear on the forehead, cheeks, eyelids, and upper chest.
Blood vessel dilation is due to weakening of the elastic fibers in the walls of the blood vessel. While the exact mechanisms leading to blood vessel dilation are not completely understood, visible veins are associated with excessive sun exposure, normal aging, pregnancy, steroid use, liver disease, genetics, radiation therapy, and trauma.
Visible veins are often considered to be a cosmetic issue but may also become a serious medical condition known as varicose veins.
While women are most commonly affected, men comprise about 20% of the patient population with varicose veins. Symptoms may include a heaviness in the extremity, aching legs, throbbing of the actual enlarged vessel, and most commonly, a visual change of the vessel it may become large, rope-like and blue in appearance.
Many new treatments are available for treating both facial and leg spider veins. Minimally invasive treatments include sclerotherapy and laser treatments. Sclerotherapy uses a solution injected into the veins. Lasers use light energy. Both of these treatments cause the veins to shrink so they will look smaller or even disappear. Leg veins often respond best to sclerotherapy. Facial veins often respond best to laser. Sometimes a combination works best.
It may take several weeks to see the full effect of a given treatment session. Sometimes one treatment session will be enough, but most patients will need three to five treatment sessions and some patients may need more. It is not usually possible to eliminate 100% of spider veins no matter how many treatments are performed but a 70% to 90% overall improvement is very realistic.
For varicose veins, the treatment choices are becoming less invasive as well. The newest treatments are called EndoVenous Laser Ablation (EVLA) and EndoVenous Laser Treatment (EVLT), which treat the most common underlying cause of varicose veins incompetence of the greater saphenous veins.
Unlike surgical stripping, EVLA permanently closes off the vein while leaving it in place. The endovenous laser is the newest technology available for treatment of varicose veins.
A small single needle incision is made in the leg and a fiber is inserted into the varicose vein. The laser is activated and the vein is safely closed as the fiber is moved through the vein gently heating it. Once the vein is closed, the blood that was circulating through this vein is simply rerouted to other healthy veins and the varicose vein vanishes.
No matter what your age, you'll be happy to get your great legs back. And they'll look so smooth, healthy, and youthful, you might just want to show them off.
All of these procedures are performed in the office. Insurance does not typically cover the treatment of spider veins but may cover the treatment of varicose veins.
For more information and to see if you are a candidate for any of these procedures, it's important to speak to a dermatologist skilled in these new technologies.