What to Expect from Sclerotherapy as a Spider Vein Treatment
For most patients, spider veins are a cosmetic issue. These small red, blue, or purple vessels are annoying and can steal an individual’s self-confidence. In recent years, sclerotherapy ranks as the foremost spider vein treatment, particularly when treating blood vessels in the leg.
Issues With Spider Veins
These flat vessels are abnormal but typically cause no serious health problems. They most often appear on a patient’s legs or face. They are significantly smaller than varicose veins, which have a raised, ropelike appearance and can cause medical complications.
Some doctors believe that a spider vein is a type of varicose vein. Other physicians consider them a separate condition. The UCLA School of Medicine indicates that the official name for these vessels, which resemble a spider’s web, is telangiectasias. They also tend to appear closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins do.
Common causes include:
- A family history
- Gaining weight
- Medication that result in shifts in hormones
- Standing or sitting for long periods
Doctors treat spider veins on an outpatient basis.
How Physicians Use Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is a process of injecting a spider vein or a small varicose vein with a special solution or foam called a sclerosing agent or sclerosant. It is a non-invasive procedure with few complications. A physician injects the agent into each targeted vessel using a very fine needle, the University of Michigan Vein Centers reports. In recent years, use of ultrasound to guide a physician during the procedure has become common.
Once the sclerosant reaches the vein, it irritates the walls, causing the vessel to seal shut and eventually resorb. Healthier veins nearby resume the work of the destroyed vessel. The treated vein disappears over time.
What to Expect
The path to eliminating a spider vein problem begins with a consultation with a specialist. At the initial appointment, the physician determines whether a patient is an acceptable sclerotherapy candidate and provides detailed instructions to those who qualify.
Most patients report only cramping or minor stinging during the procedure, according to the Mayo Clinic. The number of sessions required depends on how many veins need treatment and where they are located.
After a sclerotherapy procedure, patients remain on their backs while resting. Discharge orders specify how long they are required to wear compression stockings.
Although it is necessary for another adult to drive the patient home, most individuals get back to their normal routines the same day as the procedure, absent any strenuous activity. Physicians encourage walking because it helps prevent the formation of blood clots. Sun exposure to treated areas can result in the formation of dark spots on the skin.
No treatment can prevent the development of new veins. For this reason, some individuals come back from time to time for additional sclerotherapy sessions.
Types of Vein Disease Problems
Veins are responsible for circulating blood and oxygen throughout the body and back to the heart. However, while the veins are so important, they can develop problems, and these problems can cause a number of complications.
At the onset of vein disease, symptoms are often minimal, causing the disease to sometimes go unnoticed. With some diseases of the veins, if the condition goes untreated, it can become life-threatening. For that reason, being aware of the signs and symptoms of vein disease and seeking immediate medical treatment is vital to your health and well-being.
There are several vein diseases, but some of the most common include the following:
- Varicose veins –A chronic vein disease (CVD,) in this condition, the veins become dilated and they thicken. Varicose veins are comprised of twisted blood vessels, and they are unable to control proper blood flow.
- Spider veins – Another CVD, spider veins are dilated capillaries under the surface of the skin. They appear as small red, purple and blue vessels that resemble spider legs, hence the name. Like varicose veins, spider veins also twist and turn.
- Deep vein thrombosis (DVT) – This is a very serious condition that most commonly impacts the veins of the leg, though it can also develop in the veins of the pelvis and the arms. In DVT, blood clots form within the large veins, and if left untreated, these clots can loosen and travel to your lungs, resulting in a pulmonary embolism.
- Lymphedema – This disease is caused by a blockage in the lymph vessels that drain fluid from the tissues of the body, allowing cells from the immune system to travel where they need to. If left untreated, lymphedema can cause serious infections and/or lymphangiosarcoma (a rare form of soft tissue cancer.
- Leg ulcers – These breaks in the skin, or lesions, usually impact subcutaneous tissues, muscle, or bone. They can occur in diabetics, and are the result of insufficiencies in the veins. They can cause serious, life-threatening infections.
- Vein sores – These chronic wounds of the veins are the result of the poor circulation of blood from your legs, back to the heart.
- Chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) – When the venous wall and/or the valves within the leg veins don’t work properly, circulation of the blood from the legs to the heart is compromised. This vein disease causes blood to collect in the veins, causing stasis, a serious condition.
- Pulmonary embolism – This life-threatening condition causes a blood clot in the lungs. It restricts blood flow to the lungs, causing serious damage to the lungs.
- Phlebitis – This is an inflammation of the veins, which is caused by an injury to the blood vessel wall, insufficient venous flow, or abnormal coagulation.
Should you develop one of these more serious vein problems, immediate medical treatment is required.
Having the health of your veins assessed on a regular basis is crucial to your overall health and well-being. Contact our San Luis Obispo vein treatment clinic,Premier Heart & Vein Clinic for an appointment for vein care.