You look in the mirror. You have on a stunning knee-length dress and a winning smile. As you survey your reflection from head to toe, you can’t help but notice a few dark purple and some bulging veins wrapped around your legs. You hope no one else notices them. Perhaps your confidence dips, or you change from the dress to pants. There is no need to be embarrassed by varicose and spider veins. They are very common problems in older adults.

It is estimated around 20% of men worldwide and 30% of women reportedly have varicose and/or spider veins in one or more areas of their bodies. The most common locations are the legs, arms, or hands. The prominence of varicose and/or spider veins increases with age as collagen production decreases. The skin loses elasticity and can become thinner, putting those veins on prominent display. About 50% of both men and women experience varicose or spider veins by the time they reached 60 years of age. 

What are Varicose Veins?

Varicose veins supply blood to deep muscle tissue, making them bigger than other veins. In terms of visibility, weak vein walls are to blame. These weak walls can weaken vein valves resulting in blood pooling in the veins. This makes your veins swell and look different. Varicose veins can be painful and cause skin issues or be painless and cause a mild cosmetic inconvenience. Shrinking the swollen veins can reduce the effects of vein damage, making varicose veins less visible and less painful. 

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins are not the same as varicose veins. These veins appear toward the surface of your skin and supply blood. Spider veins get their name from their appearance as they look almost like a blue or purple spider web that branches out. Even though varicose veins and spider veins look different and have different functions, their origin is the same: aging vein valves. Spider veins are considered less serious than varicose veins due to their size and structure. 

Risk Factors for Varicose and Spider Veins

Beyond aging, you may be wondering what other risk factors contribute to the formation of varicose and spider veins. Women may develop spider veins on their faces and other areas of their bodies during and after pregnancy. This is caused by a spike in estrogen which can break down blood vessels. 

Patients who are obese or have heart issues commonly experience varicose veins as extra weight produces increased pressure on the legs. Increased pressure on the veins will cause them to bulge and possibly leak. Also, if your skin is particularly sun-damaged, you will notice varicose and spider veins early on. 

How to Get Rid of Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

These veins aren’t pretty and varicose veins can cause certain health conditions including fat necrosis, stasis dermatitis, or a superficial bacterial infection called cellulitis. So, what can you do to get rid of spider veins and varicose veins? Fortunately, there is a simple treatment option available. It is called sclerotherapy, and it has been around since the 1930s. 

Sclerotherapy is a highly successful treatment option that involves injecting a salt solution directly into the vein using a fine needle. The salt solution irritates the vein walls after injection. This causes them to stick together, improving circulation and clearing any pooled blood that may be stagnant in the veins. The collapsed vein is eventually reabsorbed into local tissue and eventually fades. Treatment may cause slight discomfort, similar to the pain of an immunization, and side effects are minimal. The entire procedure takes about 30 to 45 minutes. 

What to Expect from Sclerotherapy Treatment

You may be wondering what to expect from sclerotherapy treatment. Your practitioner may recommend you stop taking certain medications including aspirin, ibuprofen, and other anti-inflammatory drugs at least 48-72 hours before treatment. Be sure to disclose any medications you are taking, including herbal supplements, with your practitioner prior to treatment. You will also be asked to avoid applying lotion or cream to the treatment area before the procedure.  

After a comprehensive consultation with your practitioner, you will be led to a treatment area. Your practitioner will ask you to lay on your back with your legs slightly elevated. The treatment area will be thoroughly cleaned prior to injection. Your practitioner will then slowly inject the small needle in the treatment area and release the salt solution into the vein. You may feel a little stinging or even cramping, but it shouldn’t be too uncomfortable. In the event you do feel severe pain, notify your practitioner immediately as the salt solution may have escaped outside the specific treatment area. 

Once the injections are complete, your practitioner will secure your treatment area and massage it to disperse the solution. You may be asked to wear compression stockings or bandages for about two weeks to maintain compression for optimal results. Immediately after your procedure, you will be encouraged to walk. 

Sclerotherapy is also used to treat malformed lymph vessels and hemorrhoids. 

Am I a Good Candidate for Sclerotherapy?

Not everyone is a good candidate for sclerotherapy. If you are pregnant, you will be unable to receive treatment. Your eligibility for treatment may change if you have experienced blood clots in the past. It is also important to note that veins used for possible heart bypass surgery will not be considered for treatment. 

You are a good candidate for sclerotherapy if your varicose veins or spider veins are poorly controlled with compression stockings, and you are not obese. Also, if you complain of small ugly veins, you may be a great candidate for sclerotherapy. 

The Wonderous Results of Sclerotherapy

After receiving treatment, you can expect to see results within three to six weeks. If you have larger varicose veins, marked results may not appear until three or four months after treatment and may require additional treatment. Veins that respond well to treatment do not return, but you may have new veins appear. 

If you require a follow-up session, your practitioner will request you wait about six weeks before scheduling your next treatment. 

Sclerotherapy Side Effects

This treatment option is very safe. However, like any type of injectable procedure, there is a potential for side effects. Mild side effects include but are not limited to itching lasting a few days after the procedure, raised red areas at the injection site, or bruising. If treating larger veins, results may not be noticeable for several months. If you notice brown lines or spots at the vein site, do not be alarmed. These are harmless and far less noticeable than the varicose veins themselves. 

One other side effect to be aware of is neovascularization, this is when the body develops brand new, but tiny blood vessels at the site of injection. These tiny little veins may appear days or weeks after the procedure, but they should disappear in about three to twelve months. 

Severe side effects include the formation of ulcers at the treatment site, a sudden onset of a swollen leg, or inflammation or swelling within five inches of the groin area. If any of these side effects occur, contact your doctor immediately. 

Prevention of Varicose and Spider Veins

There are some measures you can take to prevent the formation of varicose and spider veins in addition to seeking treatment to combat existing varicose veins. As with any healthy skin maintenance routine, wear sunscreen. This will protect your skin from sun damage and help reduce the loss of elasticity. Additionally, maintain a healthy diet and establish a beneficial exercise routine to promote a healthy weight. Exercise, especially cardiovascular exercise, is great for heart health and keeps fresh blood pumping through your veins. 

Now, once you notice varicose or spider veins, you will probably continue to have them. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can reduce their appearance. 

The Bottom Line

Varicose veins and spider veins are very common. The unsightly appearance may cause more concern than the veins themselves. If you want to reduce the appearance of these veins, sclerotherapy may be right for you. 

Ready to combat this common ailment and love the skin you are in? Consider booking a comprehensive consultation with First Impressions Rejuvenation Clinic today. Our practitioners are ready to answer any questions you may have and will walk you through the procedure step-by-step. Boost your confidence and enjoy wearing shorts, skirts, and dresses no matter your age! You are worth it.