Patients who suffer from unsightly spider veins can look forward to state-of-the-art non-surgical therapies offered on an outpatient basis. The gold standard for spider vein treatment is ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy. Understanding how it works can help an individual decide whether this is an attractive option.
How Ultrasound Works
The technology has two uses in treating spider and varicose veins. Duplex ultrasound is helpful for diagnosing vein disease. It also guides a physician while performing sclerotherapy to eliminate spider and small varicose vessels.
Cedars-Sinai® states that the technology is beneficial in examining a variety of conditions that might affect blood vessels, such as:
- Carotid occlusive disease
- Leg vessel disease
- Arm artery disease
- The condition of veins
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Venous insufficiency
Duplex ultrasound is actually a combination of two distinct types of technology. According to MedlinePlus, one is traditional ultrasound, which uses sound waves bouncing off vessels to create images. The other is Doppler ultrasound, which makes a record of sound waves as they reflect off moving objects like blood to assess speed and flow pattern.
How a Vein Doctor Performs Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is the most frequent method to treat spider veins and is sometimes appropriate for small varicose vessels. Spider veins are generally much smaller than varicose vessels. They develop closer to the skin’s surface in red, blue, or purplish clusters that mimic a spider’s web.
Although they seldom create serious medical problems, they can affect an individual’s self-image. While conservative measures like compression stockings might slow the progression of the vein disease that produces spider and varicose veins, they cannot eliminate existing vessels.
The physician who treats these abnormal vessels might be a vascular surgeon or other type of vein specialist. This specialist performs sclerotherapy using a fine needle to inject a liquid or a foam, known as a sclerosant, directly into a targeted vein to eliminate it, Wake Forest Baptist Health states. The procedure is most effective for veins with a diameter of less than 5 mm.
Injection of the sclerosant irritates the walls of the vein, causing them to stick together and close. Eventually, the body resorbs these treated vessels so that they seem to disappear. Healthier veins nearby take up the workload of the vessels destroyed.
Combining ultrasound with sclerotherapy offers the physician added precision. It identifies veins that might not be obvious to the naked eye. The technology transmits the images it creates to a computer screen where the doctor can view them in real time and also look at a recorded edition later if necessary.
For most patients, there is no required preparation in advance of an ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy appointment. A session typically takes less than an hour. The number of injections required depends on the number of targeted vessels. Patients typically return to their normal schedules the following day except for strenuous activities.