We always think of lines, wrinkles, and sagging skin as the signs of aging. But don’t forget about those tiny clusters of red, purple, and blue squiggly lines on our thighs, calves, and ankles. It’s from their resemblance to a web that they get their name — spider veins. Most spider veins aren’t painful, except in the way they make you feel when you put on shorts or a bathing suit. They are another unfortunate byproduct of getting older.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy has been the most effective method for removing spider veins for nearly a century. It’s true. Sclerotherapy was first developed in the 1930s specifically to treat and erase spider veins. It involves injecting a tiny amount of sclerosant solution into the vein. This irritates the vein wall and it closes off. The body then scavenges and removes what’s left over the next few weeks.
Dr. Lee has extensive experience with spider veins, and she feels sclerotherapy is the best solution to remove them. In some cases, a combination of sclerotherapy and laser energy is used.
What are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are small superficial clusters of veins that are close to the skin surface. Because they are carrying dark, de-oxygenated blood, they are visible on the skin surface. They are common in women as they age. There is a genetic component to developing spider veins, as well.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins are larger than spider veins. They tend to develop as a single vein, rather than the clusters of spider veins. Varicose veins can be large enough that they will push up the skin, creating a raised path on the surface. If you’ve ever seen a mole’s pathway through a Midwest lawn, that’s what varicose veins resemble on the surface skin of the legs. Varicose veins can sometimes be painful. They often are aided in their development by occupations that require the person to be on their feet for long periods of time.
What causes Spider Veins and Varicose Veins?
As we age, everything on our body seems to slacken and become a little weaker. In our legs, this matters for de-oxygenated blood that is returning to the heart through our veins. The veins have to fight gravity the entire way, and they rely on the muscles and tissues in the legs to help push the blood upward. With age, the leg tissues and muscles, as well as the vein walls themselves, can become less rigid. Plus, the veins have valves in them to prevent backflow, and these can begin to malfunction. The result of all of these factors is that blood can pool in places, usually near the valves. When this happens, veins near the skin surface can become visible. The smaller, clustered veins are spider veins. The larger veins that can even push up the skin surface are known as varicose veins.
Am I a candidate for Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is a simple procedure. It takes just a few minutes for Dr. Lee to treat a series of veins. If you have unsightly spider veins, there aren’t really any restrictions on these procedures. Reactions to the sclerosant are virtually nonexistent.
Sclerotherapy does not work on larger varicose veins, the veins that push the skin upward. Too much sclerosant would be required. These veins must be treated with laser or radiofrequency ablation or with manual vein stripping.
The Benefits of Sclerotherapy
The benefit of sclerotherapy is that you can say goodbye to those unsightly clusters of purple, red, and blue veins on your ankles and calves. Once Dr. Lee injects the veins, they initially diminish dramatically, fully going away in a few weeks as your body scavenges the closed off veins. You’ll love how your legs look.
What do I need to know before my Sclerotherapy session?
No. These are simple treatments that take just a few minutes. You should have in mind which spider veins you’d like to target, but that’s about it.
What does the Sclerotherapy procedure process look like?
Dr. Lee uses a very fine needle to inject the sclerosant solution, consisting of either Asclera (polidoconol) or STS (sotradecol), directly into the vein or the area of the spider vein cluster. This solution irritates the vein wall, causing it to collapse and close off the vein. This instantly diminishes the appearance of the vein. Over the next few weeks any remaining signs vanish as the body absorbs the now-unused vein. Any blood that was routed through the vein is instantly rerouted to an adjacent, healthy vein. It takes just a few minutes for Dr. Lee to treat a number of spider veins.
What our patients have to say
“I received excellent care in a timely and professional manner. Dr Lee and her Team were very kind and caring; they kept me well informed of the procedures I was receiving. I highly recommend Dr. Lee.”
– Colleen & John R.
What is the recovery like after Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins?
If Dr. Lee injects a number of spider veins, she’ll likely have you wear compression stockings for a week or so after your session. The compression helps the body begin the process of absorbing the closed off veins. Walking and light exercise is fine immediately after your session. If you’ve had a number of veins treated, you should avoid any strenuous exercise for a few days.