“Spider vein” is the unpleasant name for the unsightly small blood vessel that appears on the surface of the legs. These vessels can be red, blue, or even purple depending on the size and amount of blood within the vessel. Many women attribute spider veins to pregnancy, but they are just as common in women who have never been pregnant. Men can also develop leg veins.
Spider veins are also sometimes called “broken capillaries”. However, while they are frequently very small in diameter, they are not actually “broken”. These small blood vessels dilate or enlarge, and become more visible as a result. They enlarge due to increased pressure within the vessel such as pregnancy, as mentioned above, or prolonged standing. Spider veins also become more prominent with age due to damage to the soft tissues and thinning of the skin over time.
However, there are many way spider veins can be treated. Prevention is primarily focused on decreasing the pressure within the blood vessels. Without a doctor’s support or supervision, simple leg elevation when possible helps. Compression stockings (such as TED stockings) or a graduated pressure hose can also be used in occupations that require prolonged standing. Those of you who are nurses, teachers, and retail workers should especially keep these tips in mind.
Ultimately, when spider veins present themselves, especially in very visible areas below the skirt or short lines, doctor-approved treatment will be needed to eradicate them. In the past, doctors used sclerotherapy extensively, which involves injecting a sclerosing agent such as highly concentrated saline into the skin. This chemical then causes irritation of the vessel lining which causes the vessel to collapse. The injection has to be very precise because if the sclerosing agent gets into the soft tissue surrounding the blood vessel, scarring can occur
Not surprisingly, laser treatments of spider veins are becoming increasingly popular because they do not involve injection or scarring. The laser literally heats up the blood within the vessel, which then induces the collapse of the vessel. The body’s immune system then kicks in and reabsorbs the blood and the wall of the vessel itself. Such an effect is similar to the skin’s reaction to a bruise. The extent of the spider veins will determine the length of the individual treatment time and the number of treatments needed. An initial consult can allow me to give a ballpark figure of the number of treatments, length of time involved, and associated cost.
As mentioned in the title, the fall and winter are good times to treat spider veins to prepare for next summer, a winter cruise, or a trip down south. Give Becky a call at (207) 873-2158 to set up a free leg vein consultation. Don’t forget to follow Maine Laser Skin Care on twitter and Facebook. Also, check out our webpage for updates on monthly specials or info on other skin topics within the Maine Laser blog.