What are varicose veins and spider veins?

Varicose veins occur when your veins become enlarged, dilated, and overfilled with blood. Varicose veins typically appear swollen and raised, and have a bluish-purple or red color. They are often painful. Varicose veins can cause itching, pain, cramping, and discoloration. Spider veins are smaller and less severe than varicose veins. Varicose veins are more common in women than in men, although anyone can get them. In most cases, varicose veins appear in the lower legs and feet.

What causes varicose and spider veins?

A variety of factors can cause varicose and spider veins:

  • obesity
  • pregnancy
  • menopause
  • age over 50
  • family history of varicose veins
  • standing for long periods of time

What is the treatment for varicose veins?

There are a variety of treatment options available depending on the type of vein, patient needs, affordability, and other factors. Talk to your physician on which treatment option is best for you.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive procedure that treats varicose veins and spider veins by injecting sclerosing agents into damaged veins. Sclerotherapy can reduce pain or side effects caused by damaged veins as well as diminish  the appearance of varicose or spider veins.

Are there any side effects from the treatment?

You may experience minor cramping, stinging, or burning in the injected vein during sclerotherapy. Common side effects of sclerotherapy include:

  • bruising
  • stinging
  • swelling
  • skin discoloration
  • discomfort
  • raised red areas that appear around the injection sites

All of these side effects should subside in a few days. Brown lines or spots can develop near the treatment area, as well. These normally disappear within three to six months, but in some cases this side effect lasts longer or may become permanent.

More serious side effects include:

  • allergic reaction to the sclerosing agent
  • ulceration of skin around the injection site
  • blood clot formation in the treated veins

You should stay in touch with your healthcare provider after sclerotherapy treatment to help increase the efficacy of the procedure and manage any potential side effects.

Do I have vein disease?

The primary symptoms of varicose veins are highly visible, misshapen veins, usually on your legs. You may also have pain, swelling, heaviness, and aching over or around the enlarged veins. In some cases, you can develop swelling and discoloration. In severe cases, the veins can bleed significantly, and ulcers can form.

See your physician if you have varicose veins.

How do I know if I am a good candidate for sclerotherapy?

Treatment options, such as sclerotherapy, vary depending on the patient, vein type, etc. Talk to your physician about sclerotherapy and what treatment options are best for you.

How long does the sclerotherapy procedure take?

Sclerotherapy takes approximately 30 minutes to complete. Other procedure types vary in length. Talk to your physician about each treatment type and what’s best for you.

How long will it take for the treated vein to disappear?

Smaller varicose veins and spider veins respond best to sclerotherapy. You may be able to see improvement within a few weeks of treatment. For larger veins, the visual improvement can take up to four months. Spider veins typically respond in three to six weeks. You may need several sessions to completely eliminate all the varicose or spider veins.

What should I do following the treatment?

Each type of vein treatment requires a different set of follow-up procedures, which your physician will go over in detail with you. But in general, you should be able to resume normal activities with few restrictions.

Will my insurance pay for the treatment?

Most major insurance companies will cover sclerotherapy treatment for health reasons, but often not for cosmetic purposes. Talk to your physician to learn more.

For more information on sclerotherapy or other treatment options we provide, please see our Treatments page.

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