Sclerotherapy for Spider Veins

Do spider veins dictate what clothing you put on? Sclerotherapy can dissolve superficial blood vessels and restore skin. Get ready to show some leg.


Go ahead. Show some leg.

Conditions and Causes

Spider veins are red, blue, or purple blood vessels near the surface of the skin that form a linear or starburst pattern. Blood backflow, tight elastic, certain injuries and sun damage on fair skin are all causes of spider veins. Hormonal changes during puberty, pregnancy, and menopause as well as birth control pills and hormone replacement therapy may also be contributing factors.


The Treatment

The veins are injected with concentrated saline water or a chemical solution, using a very fine needle. Mild burning or cramping may occur with each injection. The solution is an irritant, causing the vein to swell and the blood to clot. This effectively seals the vein off. It soon turns into scar tissue, which is absorbed by the body. In a matter of weeks the tissue is barely visible or impossible to detect.


The Schedule

It may take up to three sessions to remove a single network of blood vessels completely. Multiple sites can be treated in each sclerotherapy session.

Bandages will be applied to the treatment area, so on the day of the appointment, wearing a long skirt or loose-fitting pants is recommended. Please do not use a moisturizer on the treatment areas so that the cotton and tape bandages can adhere properly to the skin.

Please discontinue aspirin and aspirin-containing products at least one week before your sclerotherapy appointment.


Precautions

Sclerotherapy is not suitable for people who are pregnant, take anticoagulant medications, or have a history of pulmonary embolism, thrombophlebitis, or clotting disorders.

  • Side effects are usually mild and short term. They may include:
  • Bruising
  • Pigmentation Brownish discoloration may occur at the injection sites as a result of a ruptured vessel or leaking blood. This condition usually clears in less than six months, although in two percent of patients it may extend beyond two years.
  • Swelling of the feet This is most commonly seen in patients who have a history of this problem.
  • Clots within the vessels Typically occurring in larger vessels and appearing as a linear bluish-black clot, these are easy to eliminate with incision and draining.
  • Superficial thrombophlebitis Rarely occurs when only small vessels are treated.
  • New vessel formation A new network of blood vessels may appear adjacent to the treatment site; this occurs most often on the thighs. These new vessels are much smaller than the original vessels and usually resolve on their own.
  • Necrosis and ulceration Although uncommon, these conditions may occur even when perfect sclerotherapy technique is used. The cause is not fully understood. Healing may take a prolonged time, and the conditions will result in scar formation.

Prevention

Spider veins are largely genetic; there is little you can do to prevent them. However, the likelihood of spider veins forming on the face can be reduced by using proper sun protection.