Spider veins are nice…if you’re a spider. For the rest of us non-arachnids, they are purple, blue, or red squiggly annoyances on your legs, ankles, and feet. If you have enough of them, they can make you avoid wearing shorts and swimsuits in the summer months. And not being able to fully enjoy our awesome Utah summers is a crime unto itself.
So, let’s tell those spider veins to take a hike by having us take care of them at Saltz Plastic Surgery. If we address them now during the winter months, you’ll be ready come spring and summer!
What are spider veins?
Spider veins, also called telangiectasias, are clusters of tiny blood vessels that develop close to the surface of the skin. They form in clusters that look like spider webs. Unlike varicose veins, which are bigger and push the skin outward, spider veins are not usually painful. They’re just a pain to look at!
What causes spider veins?
While it’s not clear why some people get spider veins while others do not, the way they form is not a mystery. Veins are the passages through which the blood returns to the heart after its oxygen is depleted. Whereas most arteries, which carry oxygenated blood from the heart, flow downhill with gravity, veins (particularly those in the legs) have to carry the blood uphill. The uphill climb fights not only gravity, but also decreasing strength in the muscles that helps push the blood through the veins and a general weakening of the veins themselves.
Veins have a series of one-way valves that work to prevent backflow in the veins, keeping the blood from backing up and pooling. When vein walls weaken, they sometimes allow backflow. This pooling causes the vein to widen and become visible, particularly when the veins are near the skin surface.
How do we treat spider veins?
To get rid of your spider veins, the team at Saltz uses sclerotherapy. Despite some advancement in using lasers to treat spider veins, we still feel sclerotherapy is more effective. We inject what is called a sclerosion solution (usually a saline solution) directly into the vein we’re targeting. Once in the vein, the sclerosion solution irritates the wall of the vein, causing it to collapse and the blood within it to clot. Once that happens, the vein turns into scar tissue and fades away. Any blood that was routed through the vein is naturally re-directed to adjacent veins. One injection is usually needed for each inch of vein.
Afterwards, there may be some slight bruising at the injection sites and you’ll be asked to wear compression stockings/hose for a week after your treatment. Otherwise, there isn’t any real recovery from sclerotherapy. Over the next month or two the injected vein will fade away.
Want to get rid of your spider veins before the spring? Call either our Salt Lake or Park City offices and schedule your appointment.