Spider veins (also known as telangiectasias) are blood vessels very close to the skin surface which have become abnormally enlarged. They are similar to varicose veins (enlarged veins deeper beneath the skin surface) but are typically much smaller. Spider veins usually have a reddish color or sometimes a dark green color while varicose veins are usually colorless or, less often, green. The causes of spider veins are more complex and less well understood than the causes of varicoses veins. Damaged valves are thought to be a common cause. Other causes include aging, pregnancy, excessive sun exposure, trauma and surgical incisions. Interestingly, varicose veins themselves can lead to the formation of spider veins.
Aside from being unattractive, spider veins can cause pain and swelling of the legs. Rarely, very large spider veins can bleed and can cause sores to form.
For decades, the mainstay of spider vein treatment has been sclerotherapy. During sclerotherapy, a medication called a sclerosant is injected into spider veins using a tiny needle. The medication irritates the inner lining of the vein, causing it to swell and stick together. Over a period of a few weeks, the veins turn into scar tissue and fade. At Valley Endovascular, we typically use sclerotherapy to treat larger spider veins.
Veinwave is a treatment which just recently became available in the US. It has been used in Europe since 2001 and is considered the gold standard for spider vein treatment there. Veinwave uses a technique called thermocoagulation to eliminate spider veins. A probe which looks like a pen is applied to a spider vein and delivers a wave of energy which generates heat. This causes the vein to immediately disappear. Veinwave causes minimal discomfort, and, unlike sclerotherapy, does not take weeks to show visible results. By using Veinwave, the physicians at Valley Endovascular can avoid some of the possible side-effects of sclerotherapy, such as skin discoloration and skin injury. In addition, Veinwave can treat spider veins which are too small to treat with sclerotherapy. Veinwave is especially effective for the treatment of facial spider veins.
Before and after pictures:
For more information about Veinwave, click here.
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