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Spider Veins & Varicose Veins: What Are They?

If you’re ready to restore a smooth, youthful look to your legs by ridding them of visible varicose veins and spider veins, you may want to consider sclerotherapy treatment with Dr. Barlow. But first things first: before we get into describing how sclerotherapy works, let’s consider the problem it addresses. What exactly are varicose veins and spider veins, and what causes them? When a vein close to the skin becomes enlarged (dilated) and stays that way, that’s what’s known as a varicose vein. Meanwhile, a group of connected blood vessels that become dilated are what’s known as spider veins – a set of mild varicose veins. Clinically speaking, they can appear anywhere on the body, but they occur regularly on the face, and with by far the greatest frequency the legs, for the simple reason that standing upright and walking increases the pressure on the veins throughout the lower body. Significantly more women – four times as many, to be exact – develop some form of varicose veins than do men, in part because pregnancy can be a contributing factor. Altogether, causes of varicose and spider veins include:
  • Pregnancy
  • Significant weight gain
  • Heredity
  • A pattern of prolonged sitting or standing
  • Venous reflux disease

How does sclerotherapy work?

While spider veins are primarily a cosmetic concern – they’re mild and no specific health hazard is associated with them – when varicose veins occur on the legs, they’re known to contribute to a dull, aching pain that accompanies prolonged standing. Sclerotherapy works by injecting a varicose or spider vein with a solution that dries out the walls of the blood vessel and shrinks them up to the point of closing the vessel off. Over the course of a single sclerotherapy session, many veins may be treated, through multiple sessions (generally scheduled one month apart) may be necessary to treat all the veins in a given patient. A newer technique uses special ultrasound technology to help guide the sclerosant to the affected vein, which allows sclerotherapy to be used on larger varicose veins (not just spider veins). Within a week or two of treatment, the treated blood vessels will disappear (permanently) as the work of carrying blood is shifted to nearby blood vessels. As a consequence, not only will your varicose and spider veins be gone, but circulation will be improved as well. After your treatment, you can walk right away. You’ll wear compression hose for a period of days, during which you should take it easy – no strenuous exercise.

Ready to learn more?

Dr. Barlow can evaluate your symptoms and help you decide if sclerotherapy is the right solution for you. Click here to get in touch with us, and we’ll reach out to you to schedule a personal consultation.

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