There are several techniques for treatment of unwanted varicose veins and spider veins in your legs. These range from injecting medications into the smallest veins (sclerotherapy) to endovenous ablation (a minimally invasive procedure) of larger veins. The University of Kansas Health System offers state-of-the-art treatment options for varicose and spider veins.
What are varicose veins and spider veins?
Varicose veins are enlarged, bulging veins in the legs that often cause discomfort. Spider veins are thin, red and blue clusters of veins in the skin. These may cause skin irritation and cosmetic concerns.
Treatment of varicose veins and spider veins may decrease discomfort and improve cosmetic appearance. There are several different techniques your healthcare provider can use to get rid of varicose or spider veins.
Who can have vein treatment?
Problems with spider veins or varicose veins can range from simple aesthetic concerns to severe discomfort and pain. Vein treatments can address the appearance of spider or varicose veins and can also bring relief from uncomfortable symptoms. If you are affected by 1 or both of these vein conditions, you can seek a consultation with a physician.
How does vein treatment work?
There are 3 main options for getting rid of varicose or spider veins:
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Benefits and risks of vein treatment
The primary benefit of vein treatment is reducing or eliminating uncomfortable symptoms resulting from leg veins. Improving the aesthetic appearance of leg veins is another benefit for many. Risks of vein treatments are generally considered minimal. Your doctor will go over any possible risks or side effects with you at the time of your consultation.
What happens during vein treatment?
Sclerotherapy is often used for the treatment of spider veins in the legs. The procedure is performed in your doctor's office and lasts 15-30 minutes. The skin is cleansed with antiseptic, and then, using a small needle, the sclerosing medication is injected into the spider vein cluster. Multiple tiny injections will be needed during each treatment session. For optimal cosmetic results, 2 or more sessions are usually required at 4- to 6-week intervals.
If the vein cannot be seen on the skin's surface, ultrasound may be used to help guide the insertion of the needle.
It is important to remember to limit your activities for a few days following sclerotherapy, though walking is encouraged to help speed the recovery process. You may experience redness and bruising at the injection sites that will improve over several days. The application of compression stockings for the first 72 hours or more following treatment is recommended.
Perforator veins connect the superficial and deep venous systems. Larger perforators veins contain valves that direct flow from the superficial veins to the deep veins. It is estimated that up to 66% of people with skin changes secondary to chronic venous insufficiency will have a component of perforator reflux, in addition to other sources of superficial or deep venous reflux. Valvular incompetency has been shown to result in venous hypertension and eventual stasis ulceration.
Perforator vein ablations are for the treatment of leg venous ulcers and skin changes. Chemical or thermal ablation are common procedures used to treat perforator veins. The goal is to irritate and scar the veins from the inside so the abnormal veins close and no longer fill with blood. Several treatments may be required. This procedure may decrease discomfort and promote healing of venous stasis skin disease and ulcers.
The University of Kansas Health System offers 2 state-of-the-art endovenous ablation procedures for the treatment of varicose veins:
- The ClosureFast™ procedure is performed on an outpatient basis. This technique uses radiofrequency energy to precisely and effectively treat patients suffering from chronic venous insufficiency. Using ultrasound, the physician positions the catheter into the diseased vein through a small opening in the skin. The small catheter delivers heat to the vein wall, causing it to shrink and the vein to seal closed. Once the diseased vein is closed, blood will reroute itself to other healthy veins. This procedure takes approximately 30 minutes and is performed while patients are awake utilizing with local anesthetic. This procedure has minimal pain and scarring. Studies show lower rates of pain, bruising and complications and faster improvement in quality of life.
- The VenaSeal procedure is a nonthermal method of closing the saphenous vein with a medical adhesive called cyanoacrylate. This unique approach eliminates the risk of thermal nerve injury when treating the saphenous vein. Clinical studies have demonstrated this procedure is safe and effective. The procedure is administered without the use of tumescent anesthesia, avoiding discomfort associated with multiple needle sticks.
Ambulatory microphlebectomy is an outpatient procedure to treat varicose veins. Local numbing medication is used . A small needle hole incision is made in the skin and the varicose vein is removed.
You are able to walk immediately after surgery and allowed to resume most normal activities. Because the procedure is performed under local anesthetic, you will be able to drive home. This procedure may be done alone or in combination with other procedures to treat other veins in the legs.