Spider veins in the legs are an unsightly issue which develops in many people as they age. There’s no one specific factor outside of genetics, but obesity, standing for long periods, multiple pregnancies, and basic hormonal influences in the body can contribute to their formation. Spider veins differ from varicose veins in that they are much smaller and can occur even when the valves in the veins are still intact. Varicose veins occur when the valves that pump the blood in the correct direction are weakened by pressure on them, and blood begins to pool in the lower extremities when it’s not being pumped back up toward the heart as effectively as before. These are the veins that look like bulging ropes in the legs.
How Does Lifestyle Contribute To Spider Veins?
There are certain steps you can take as preventative measures against spider veins. These won’t affect veins you already see — that’s what a procedure like sclerotherapy is for — but they can help keep them at bay or prevent further progression.
- Exercise And Movement — It’s not necessary to go crazy with workout routines, but moderate activity on a regular basis can help keep veins robust: walking, jogging, stretching, skipping rope. You want to use your legs to keep the muscles active and blood pumping through them. And staying at a healthy weight is helpful to minimize pressure on the veins of the legs.
- Stand Up! — If you’re driving for long periods for a daily commute, sitting at a desk for nearly 40 hours a week, or frequently traveling on planes, you’re set-up for development of spider veins. Make sure you are countering all that sitting with a substantial amount of standing or walking; work a routine into your existing schedule that forces you to get up, either with a fitness tracker or an alarm or app on your phone and walk around the aisles of the plane when you can. It is also wise to wear compression hose on all long flights.
- Pregnancy — We advise our patients who are planning to become pregnant that wearing compression hose starting early on in the pregnancy is the best way to prevent spider and varicose veins from occurring.
Sclerotherapy is a trusted procedure which has been performed safely for 50 years. The procedure involves injecting a sclerosing agent ( a solution which is irritating to the blood vessels, or a foam that contains irritating chemicals) into the targeted veins with small needles. The vein in question will shrink and collapse, and over a few sessions, it will disappear or become much less visible. Blood will naturally be re-routed into other veins in the surrounding area. The procedure takes about 30 minutes per session, depending on the number of veins to be treated, and several visits, separated by approximately four weeks, can be expected for the best results.
But varicose and spider veins can come back, especially if patients are genetically predisposed to them. If you’ve had them once, you can expect to have some again if you don’t follow a thorough treatment plan and adjust your lifestyle after sclerotherapy. The procedure is not a one-time cure-all, but most patients do not experience recurrences that are even remotely as prominent as before.
What Can You Expect Following the Procedure, and How Can You Maintain The Results?
Most patients will be able to resume normal activity immediately after sclerotherapy. It’s not invasive surgery, and aside from some stinging from the needle and small bruises at the sites of injection, it’s not painful enough to warrant significant recovery time. It’s very important that you move around and walk a bit following sclerotherapy because this can help prevent blood clots and expedite the process of breaking the veins down. It is imperative that you wear prescribed compression hose after the treatment for up to a week so that the vessel walls can come into contact with each other and seal up.
You will need a few sessions to achieve the optimal results. Compression hose is a good thing to start regularly wearing after the procedure to maintain excellent results.