We’ve all seen them — those red squiggly lines and bulging purple ropes that make your legs look less than ideal in a skirt, shorts or bathing suit. Spider veins, and their more hateful cousin varicose veins, are the bane of existence for many. In fact, over 50% of women and 40% of men suffer from one or the other. The causes are varied:
- Genetics: If your mother or father had them, there’s a good chance that you will as well.
- Age: As we get older, the valves in our veins weaken, increasing our risk for both spider veins and varicose veins.
- Hormones: Puberty, pregnancy, menopause and taking birth control pills can all increase your risk.
- Weight: Carrying around extra weight puts extra pressure on the veins, causing them to weaken.
- Pressure: Sitting or standing for too long causes undue pressure on your veins and forces them to work harder to bring the blood toward your heart. Crossing your legs can cut off the blood flow, resulting in spider, reticular and varicose veins on the inside of the knees and legs.
- Sun: Too much exposure to the sun damages the vessels causing spider veins on the nose and cheeks in particular.
Both spider veins and varicose veins develop when the small valves within the vein walls break down. They typically appear on the thighs, backs of the calves and inside of the legs although spider veins, which are really just a smaller version of varicose veins, can be found on the face as well. Particularly if you have fair hair and skin.
Winter is an ideal time to take care of these unsightly veins for good. First, you will probably have to wear some kind of compression garment post treatment. And they can make you hot. Which will feel nice when it’s snowing outside, Second, treating your spider and varicose veins now means that your legs will be smooth and beautiful by the time swimsuit season rolls around.
Treating varicose and spider veins with Sclerotherapy is easy. I inject the affected veins with a saline/dextrose/iodine solution that causes them to collapse on themselves and seal shut, cutting off the blood supply. This is no danger to your health in general or to your leg circulation. In fact, treating incompetent varicose veins and even smaller ones will improve the overall circulatory health of your legs. There are thousands of other small collateral veins that will take over the blood circulation. The treatment is fast and relatively painless. You may feel a slight stinging at the injection site and some temporary redness and/or bruising, but there is no down time following the procedure. Other than avoiding long road trips or flying for the first few days post treatment, you can return to your normal life.
For spider veins and broken capillaries on the face, nose and cheeks, I use either an Intense Pulse Light (IPL) or vascular laser called Excel V. Depending on the size of the vein, it may take 2 to 3 treatments to achieve complete resolution. Either way, both laser and sclerotherapy are safe, easy and fast methods for ridding yourself of embarrassing veins.