This Fall, Squash Spider Veins

leg-veinIn the past month, I have seen a phenomenon which is repeated every year around this time and extending into the winter.  That phenomenon is a large number of women coming in asking to have the appearance of spider veins on their legs reduced.

Each of them tell very similar stories.  While wearing shorts or a bathing suit this past summer, they noticed, or worse someone else noticed, unsightly veins on their legs.

At first, they thought the area was a bruise or some other discoloration.  However, on closer examination, they found that it actually was a cluster of small veins commonly known as “spider” veins.

As I have discussed in blog entries and newsletters in the past, there are a number of reasons for the appearance of these veins.  Such reasons include genetic tendencies, prolonged standing, and injuries.

The patient occupations that are very prone to spider veins include nurses, teachers and retail workers.  These workers, after all, have to be on their feet for most of the day.

sclerotherapyIn the old days, the only treatment for these veins was called sclerotherapy.  With this type of treatment, a caustic fluid was injected into the vein causing severe irritation to the lining and resulting in the vein collapsing.

Although effective in expert hands, side effects for sclerotherapy were very common.  They included discoloration at the injection site as well as damage to surrounding tissue if this fluid leaked out of the target vein.

Fortunately, improvements in technology such as lasers have made this treatment much more successful and with minimal side effects.  Simply put,  the laser beam is directed at the target blood vessels and heat caused by the laser beam striking the blood vessel results in collapse of the vessel.

Following the collapse of the blood vessel, your body’s immune system works to remove the vein and the blood within it similar to the mechanism used to resolve a bruise.

When a vein collapse occurs by means of laser, there is a snapping type pain that occurs but this is minimized by pretreatment with a Novocain cream.  Effects of the laser heat to the normal skin tissue is also minimized by application of cooling gel and cold compresses following the treatment.

Immediately following the laser treatment on spider veins, there is a noticeable change in the appearance.  However, since we are depending on the body immune mechanisms to work, significant improvement will take at least over the next month to be noticeable.

I always tell patients that they will need at least two treatments to a spider vein before they see more permanent results.  Even after one treatment, some blood vessels do reopen after collapse due to pressure of the blood flow that cannot be completely eliminated.

As I noted at first, this laser procedure for spider veins is very popular in the fall and winter as we do not have to worry about exposure to the sun following the treatment.  If after examination of your legs during the summer, you have some areas of concern, give us a call for a free examination and consultation at 207-873-6173. Becky and Denise can give you more details as well as making a appointment.

If you get started now, you can definitely be much less self-conscious about your legs by next spring and summer.

About Dr. John Burke

John Burke M.D. has practiced medicine for over 25 years, and is the founding partner of MidMaine Internal Medicine. He established Maine Laser Skin Care in 2004 after devoting years to learning the latest in laser and dermatologic technology. Dr. Burke has treated patients from all over the United States. He is one of Maine's busiest practitioners in laser treatments, and in the use of Botox for upper facial lines and excessive sweating.
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