Spider and varicose veins can develop after childbirth or after taking certain medications, because of hormone changes, weight gain, or prolonged sitting or standing, or they may be an inherited family trait. Spider and varicose veins can be embarrassing—they make many people self-conscious about wearing sports clothes, shorts, or summer tops. And if you have spider veins on your face, even a good makeup concealer won’t always cover the veins completely.
Different veins require different treatment
Spider veins are cherry red in color and usually appear on the legs, sometimes on the arms, and occasionally on the face. They are thin and thread-like, usually 1-2 mm in diameter, and generally appear in a linear pattern, a branch-like pattern, or a spider pattern. Spider veins on the face, legs, arms, or body can usually be treated with lasers. Spider veins on the legs—and sometimes asymptomatic larger, ropey veins or blue-colored varicose veins—can be treated with sclerotherapy.
Sclerotherapy involves injecting a series of saline or chemical solutions into a vein using a very fine needle. The injections cause the vein to collapse and disappear. Generally, an injection is necessary for each inch-long segment of the vein. Sclerotherapy is performed on an outpatient basis, and each treatment usually takes 15 minutes to an hour. Multiple treatments are often necessary to completely collapse the veins. The more veins you want to treat, the more treatments you will need.
After each treatment, you may feel some itching and cramping in the treated area. Your doctor or nurse may advise you to wear a prescription-grade medical compression garment for at least two weeks after treatment to help the veins collapse and to reduce the risk of blood clots, a risk that increases for larger vessels. There may be bruising, but it will usually fade in a few weeks. Other side effects may include pigmentation or scarring. You should walk a bit every day after your treatment.
Sclerotherapy is an effective treatment for spider veins and varicose veins, but some vessels may still persist after treatment. It’s also important to understand that sclerotherapy can treat veins that are already visible, but it will not prevent new veins from becoming visible. Talk to your nurse or doctor about your expectations during your consultation.
Spider veins can be treated with lasers, especially on the face, where the veins are too small and too close to the skin’s surface to be effectively collapsed with sclerotherapy. Lasers destroy the targeted veins without damaging surrounding tissues. Laser treatments are performed on an outpatient basis and usually take from 15 minutes to an hour. You may require more than one treatment. Cold compresses are recommended to reduce swelling, the treated area may bruise for approximately a week, and discoloration may last for a few weeks. In darker skin types, there is the risk of permanent discoloration of the skin, so you should discuss this issue with your nurse or physician during your consultation. Although laser treatment does not prevent new veins from forming, it is a very effective treatment that usually produces few, if any, side effects.
I’m interested! What’s my next step
To learn more about cosmetic vein treatments or to determine if you’re a good candidate, schedule a consultation today. Click on the link below to find a Kaiser Permanente Cosmetic Services center near you.