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Summer Legs Are Made in the Winter Months

By: Dr. Charles
Topics: General
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Lots of women are bothered by spider veins, especially in the summer months when we Chicagoans finally are able to start wearing shorts and showing off some leg! These spider veins may be pink, red or purple, but no matter the color, you hate the way they make your legs look.

Today it is very common for spider veins to be treated through sclerotherapy, which is a simple procedure where your veins are injected with a sclerosing solution. This treatment causes the lining of the vessels to swell and close, resulting in a lighter color and improved appearance.

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins, also known as superficial leg veins or telangiectasia, are small dilated surface vessels on your calves, thighs and sometimes ankles. Spider veins are more commonly found in women than in men and increase in frequency as we age.

While the cause of spider veins is unknown, pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, oral contraceptives, and long periods of standing or sitting may cause spider veins to be more prominent.

Spider vs. Varicose Veins

Did you know that spider veins and varicose veins are different? Varicose veins are generally larger (quarter inch), tend to bulge and be darker in color. Varicose veins are more likely to be painful and be related to a more serious vascular disorder that requires a laser treatment or surgery. However some patients with varicose veins can be treated with sclerotherapy.

The Best Candidates for Sclerotherapy

Women of all ages may be good candidates for sclerotherapy, and the best way to tell is through a consultation with a board-certified dermatologist. The best candidates for sclerotherapy are typically women between 30-60 years old. For some, they may have been able to see small spider veins in their teens and early 20s, while others may have only noticed them after a pregnancy or into their 40s.

Those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, may be advised to wait on sclerotherapy treatment. Nursing moms may also be advised to wait until they are done breastfeeding as the sclerosing agent in the injection could affect breast milk.

Spider veins are not as common in men, however men who seek treatment for spider veins see similar results as women from sclerotherapy.

The Procedure

Sclerotherapy procedures can be performed in the office with no serious side effects. Your doctor will inject a chemical solution using a very fine needle (about the thickness of a hair). The sclerosing agent injected will irritate the vein which makes it close and collapse and eventually be absorbed by the body. Sclerotherapy appointments typically last about 20 minutes.

Getting Back to Normal

After having sclerotherapy treatments, you probably won’t want to wear any shorts or skirts for a while – which is why it is best to have this treatment during the fall and winter months when you are more covered up.

Patients must wear compression stockings for two to three weeks after sclerotherapy.

Tiny spider veins generally disappear within three to six weeks and larger veins are gone in three to four months after sclerotherapy treatment. Sometimes additional sessions of sclerotherapy are needed; when necessary they should be scheduled two months or more after the first session.

 

If you have spider veins, and don’t like the way they make your legs look, come in for a consultation to see if sclerotherapy might be right for you.