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Spider Veins

Spider veins (medically called telangiectasias), are small red and purple veins and capillaries that occur in patches on the legs The network of vessels is often as delicate as a spider's web, which is how they get their name, but the patches also resemble tiny sunbursts, branching trees or just lines. Exactly what happens in the body to produce spider veins isn't known for sure. Spider veins occur mostly in women. Spider veins are primarily a cosmetic problem, although they can cause aching and discomfort.


With sclerotherapy, veins are injected with a medicine, which causes them to collapse and fade from view. A tiny needle is used to inject the veins with a medication that irritates the lining of the vein. The solution used is Sotradecol. Chemically similar to soaps, it is FDA approved drug for sclerotherapy. In response, the veins collapse and are reabsorbed. You may need several sclerotherapy sessions for any one vein region. Generally, normal activities can be resumed immediately after sclerotherapy. The procedure, performed in our office, usually causes only minor discomfort. Treatment of Spider veins is done for cosmetic reasons and is not covered by insurance.


Serious medical complications from sclerotherapy are extremely rare. However, they may occur. Risks include the formation of blood clots in the veins, severe inflammation, adverse allergic reactions to the sclerosing solution and skin injury that could cause an ulcer and eventually leave a permanent scar. A common cosmetic complication is pigmentation irregularity – brownish splotches on the affected skin that may take months to fade, sometimes up to a year. Another problem that can occur is "telangiectatic matting," in which fine reddish blood vessels appear around the treated area, requiring further injections. Hypopigmented (white) spots may also occur.


You may bring running shorts or use one of our gowns for the procedure. Your legs may be photographed. Tiny needles are used to inject sodium tetradecyl which is not as painful as some other agents. It is common to experience some cramping in the legs for the first day or two after the injections. This temporary doesn't require medication. You should be aware that your treated veins will look worse before they begin to look better. Initially you will notice bruising and reddish areas at the injection sites. The bruises will diminish within one month. In many cases, there may be some residual brownish pigmentation, which may take up to a year to completely fade.


Although you probably won't want to wear any leg-baring fashions for about two weeks, your activity will not be significantly limited in any other way from sclerotherapy treatment. You are asked to wear mild compression hose for 2 weeks after the procedure on the treated leg(s). You will be encouraged to walk to prevent clots from forming in the deep veins of the legs. An eight week healing interval must pass before you may have your second series of injections in the same site. After each treatment, you should notice further improvement of your legs' appearance.