A common question we hear is: do spider veins ever go away on their own? This is a common question because spider veins are very common. The truth is that spider veins on the legs tend to worsen over time in people that have them. And the truth is they rarely if ever go away on their own. The good news, however, is that they can be treated with techniques such as sclerotherapy. A better understanding of what spider veins are and how they are treated will help understand why they don’t go away on their own, and why they can be treated with techniques such as sclerotherapy.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins, also known medically as Telangiectasias, are small veins that lie close to the surface of the skin which appear to be purple, blue or red in appearance. They appear as three basic shapes: linear, branch-like or traditionally in the shape of a spider, with a dark center point. Spider veins most commonly appear on the ankles or thighs, but can appear anywhere on the leg or sometimes the face.
Symptoms of spider veins
Many patients do not have symptoms from their spider veins. But symptoms can occur in some patients. Symptoms of spider veins might include swelling in the lower legs, pain or burning of the affected area, or itching around one or more of the veins. Occasionally they can ulcerate and bleed. Prolonged sitting or standing will have a tendency to increase these signs.
Incidence and Causes
Experts say that nearly 70% of all women will develop some type of venous insufficiency, whether it is in the form of spider veins or varicose veins. They can develop on men as well. Spider veins are formed when a valve in a vein becomes weak, forcing blood to collect into the small veins just under the surface of the skin. Although they do occur in males, women are twice as likely to have the condition. Heredity and hormonal shifts play a major role in the development of spider veins. Weight gain and occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing are also main contributors to venous insufficiency.
Spider Vein Treatment with Sclerotherapy
Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment of spider veins. This is a nonsurgical treatment for varicose veins that involves injecting an FDA approved solution into the vein, causing the lining of the vein wall to swell, stick together and ultimately seal shut. Once the vein is sealed, the flow of blood is stopped and scar tissue develops in the vein. With the diseased vein sealed, blood is forced into healthier veins. The treated veins are absorbed and eventually becomes nearly invisible. Sclerotherapy may need to be performed multiple times over the course of weeks or months to achieve the desired results. This is because in most treatment session, not all the spider veins go away. When you meet with the provider you can work with them to assess how many treatment sessions you will need to attempt to achieve the results you are looking for.
Possible Risks & Side Effects:
- A small percentage of patients (10%) may not see an improvement in the appearance of their veins.
- Brown “spots” may appear along the path of the vein, these spots are temporary and very few patients experience any permanent discoloration.
- Blistering, redness, itching, and irritation may develop as a reaction to the adhesive tape used for compression.
- Blistering, infection, ulceration, and scarring may develop if someone is exceptionally sensitive to the tiny amount of solution used during the injection. This occurs in less than 1% of the patients and an allergic reaction to some of the solutions is a rare possibility.
- Tenderness, bruising, or firmness (especially along the larger vessels) in the treated area may last for varying periods of time. This can be minimized by the use of support hose after the treatment.
- Some people (less than 10%) develop a “matt” or pink blush of the skin, which comes from a temporary enlargement of the tiny capillaries. This is rarely permanent and can be treated.
- Sometimes blood may accumulate in the larger veins treated by sclerotherapy. These accumulations may be treated by the physician to decrease any discomfort. Strict use of support hose minimizes this possibility.
- Rarely, this accumulation of blood may form a clot. Although this is usually trapped in the treated vein, an extremely rare possibility is the extension of this clot into a deeper vessel causing phlebitis. The risk of this occurring is much less than 1%.
- People with significant circulatory problem, uncontrolled diabetes or pregnant women should not undergo this procedure.
- Headache can occur if extensive sclerotherapy is performed in one session.
Give us a call to set up a consultation if you would like to learn more.