Spider veins are small blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin. Although they can appear anywhere on the body, spider veins typically occur on the legs. The cause is unknown, but genetics, hormones, prolonged standing or sitting, and trauma make spider and varicose veins worse. Sclerotherapy remains the gold standard for treating these spider veins.
How it works:
Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a special solution into the unwanted veins using a small needle. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together. Over a period of weeks to months, the collapsed vein is reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades.
What are possible side effects?
After the injection, a bruise may be noted at the site, but this fades within a few days. Occasionally, a brown streak may appear along the length of a treated vessel. This gradually fades, but on rare occasions, may be permanent. This is most often seen when treating the larger blue veins. Very rarely, if the sclerosing solution leaks out into the skin, an ulceration may develop that may heal with a scar. This risk is minimized, but not totally eliminated, with appropriate injection technique. Infrequently, around a spider vein that has been successfully treated, very tiny new vessels may develop. These almost always fade within a few months. On rare occasions, these vessels have to be treated with additional sclerotherapy or laser therapy. When treating the larger blue veins, rarely a small clot (not the kind that could dislodge and travel in your circulation) may form in the injected vessel. This may become painful and require a return to our office for removal. Swelling may develop, especially when treating vessels around the ankles. This is not dangerous usually resolving within a few days. Leg elevation after a treatment may decrease the swelling, if any. Very rarely an allergic reaction to polidocanol has been report. With that in mind, you will be asked to remain at the office for 20 minutes after completion of your treatment.
Luckily, side effects from spider vein sclerotherapy are very infrequent and almost always self-limited.
Is there downtime?
You can resume normal activities immediately, but compression stockings should be worn and high-impact activities, hot baths or saunas, and long plane rides should be avoided for several days after the procedure.
When will I see results?
The injected sites will likely look worse before they look better. If responsive, the vessels disappear over a period of 2 to 3 months. Recurrences may rarely occur over a period of 1 to 5 years. This treatment does not prevent new vessels from developing, and wearing support hose regularly may reduce the need for repeat follow up treatments.
- Do not use moisturizers on your legs for 24 hours before the treatment.
- Do not shave your legs for 48 hours before treatment.
- Do not wear tight clothing on the day of the treatment. A full skirt, culottes, or loose fitting slacks are ideal.
- Bring shorts or a leotard to wear during the treatment.
- Do not use aspirin or aspirin containing medications for at least 2 weeks before and 48 hours after treatment. Tylenol is an acceptable alternative if pain medication is needed.
- Avoid heat, prolonged sitting or standing or strenuous exercise such as aerobics for the first 48 hours after treatment. During this period, try to elevate your legs while sitting.
- Speed up recovery after 48 hours by walking or exercising regularly.
- Avoid sun exposure to treated areas for one month after treatment.
- If you were prescribed fitted support hoisery, wear them, for best results, continuously for 48 hours immediately after treatment and as much as possible for 3 weeks after treatment. You may wear opaque hoisery over your support hoisery to achieve color coordination.
For emergencies at night or during the weekend, call (314) 878-3839, leave a message and the doctor will contact you shortly thereafter.