Varicose veins are the veins that bulge and twist above the skin, usually on the thighs and calves. They may form also around the vagina and buttocks during pregnancy. They may appear to be blue, red, or flesh-colored.
According to the Vancouver Island Health Authority, 20% of Canadian adults suffer from varicose veins. In the United States, 50% of people aged 50+ have varicose veins.
Compared with varicose veins, spider veins are usually smaller and closer to the surface.
They look like red or blue spiderwebs or branches, often on the legs and face. They may take up very large surface areas.
Varicose veins in the legs usually result from weak or damaged valves in the veins. The heart pumps blood out through arteries and back through veins. As your muscles squeeze to push blood up to the heart, one-way valves in the veins prevent blood from flowing back. Weak valves let blood leak back and collect — this is called venous insufficiency. The enlarged veins become varicose.
Spider veins can also be caused by blood backup. Other causes include hormonal changes, sun exposure, and injury.
On the other hand (no pun intended), bulging hand veins tend to be the result of fat loss due to aging, rather than damaged valves and venous backflow.
At Reviva Laser Skin Clinic, we offer many treatments for varicose veins. Please visit us for a consultation to determine which is right for you.
Hand and leg veins are a very visible sign of aging. Sclerotherapy is extremely effective in removing them. Veins are injected with a sclerosing solution which makes them collapse and fade away. Sclerotherapy is cost-effective and has long-lasting results.
This laser targets and destroys the red and blue of spider veins without damaging surrounding skin. For those who have smaller spider veins and a fear of needles, the GentleYAG is perfect for you.
Q: Is sclerotherapy suitable for me?
A: Women of any age may be good candidates for sclerotherapy, though most are aged 30 to 60. Some teens may have noticeable spider veins. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding may be advised to postpone sclerotherapy because spider veins that appear during pregnancy often disappear after the baby is born and because it is not known how sclerosing solutions affect breast milk.
It is no longer uncommon for men to take care of their appearance for personal satisfaction and professional advancement. Although spider veins are not as common and are usually concealed by body hair when it comes to men, sclerotherapy is just as effective.
Q: What can I expect from sclerotherapy?
A: Sclerotherapy can improve your appearance and self confidence. It is unrealistic to expect every affected vein to vanish completely, but with each sclerotherapy session, the veins will appear lighter. Two or more sessions are usually required for optimal results. Most patients notice improvement with each treatment. Your skin will appear younger, clearer, and healthier-looking. Patients are usually surprised by the dramatic difference between the treated leg and the untreated one.
Patients should note that sclerotherapy only treats visible veins. Sclerotherapy does not permanently change the venous system or prevent other veins from rising to the surface in the future.
Q: How should I prepare for the sclerotherapy procedure?
A: Dr. Ngai will give you specific instructions to prepare for your schlerotherapy treatment. Carefully follow the instructions. Do not apply moisturizer, sunscreen, or oils to your legs on the day of your procedure. You should arrive in shorts for ease of injection. You will wear support hose and slacks prescribed by your physician for the trip home.
When scheduling a sclerotherapy session, keep in mind that your legs may be slightly bruised or discoloured for some weeks after treatment.
Q: What is the sclerotherapy procedure like?
A: A typical sclerotherapy session is quick, lasting only 15 to 45 minutes. You will be asked to change into shorts. The legs may be photographed for medical records. You will then lie down on the examination table. The physician or nurse will thoroughly clean the treatment area with an antiseptic solution and begin injecting the sclerosing agent into the affected veins. Good lighting and magnification will help ensure the process is completed with maximum precision.
Approximately one injection is administered for each inch of spider vein. Each treatment session may range from 5 to 40 injections.
The practitioner will apply cotton balls and compression tape to each area as it is treated. During the procedure, you may listen to music, read, or talk to your practitioner as you like. You may need to shift your position occasionally, and may also feel slight pinpricks or a mild burning sensation. However, the needle is so thin and the sclerosing solution is so mild that pain is usually minimal.
Q: Where are the sclerotherapy treatments performed?
A: Sclerotherapy for spider veins is a relatively simple procedure that requires no anesthesia. It will be performed in an outpatient setting (i.e. no overnight stay required) at the Reviva clinic.
Q: What are the risks of spider vein and varicose vein treatments?
A: As with any medical treatment, there is some risk involved. With sclerotherapy, serious complications are extremely rare when the procedure is performed by a qualified practitioner. Risks include blood clots in the veins, severe inflammation, allergic reactions to the sclerosing solution, and minor skin injuries that might leave small but permanent scars.
You may minimize risk by choosing a doctor who has adequate training in sclerotherapy and is familiar with the different types of sclerosing agents available. At Reviva Laser Skin Clinic in Greater Vancouver, a qualified doctor, Dr. Ngai, helps patients select the most appropriate type of sclerosing medication for their needs.
Q: What happens after the treatment?
In addition to the compression tape applied during the procedure, tight-fitting support hose may be prescribed by a physician to prevent blood clots and promote healing. The tape and cotton balls may be removed after 48 hours. You may be instructed to wear the support hose for 72 hours or more. Leg cramps are not uncommon for the first day or two following injections. They are temporary and usually do not require medication.
When the compression dressings are removed, you will see bruising and redness. These will fade within the month. Irregular pigmentation, e.g. brownish splotches, are common and may take months or up to a year to fade. Another possible issue is telangiectatic matting, which are fine, reddish blood vessels that appear around the treated area and may require further injections. Your treated veins will look worse before they look better!
Keep in mind that, as time passes, you may want a touch-up or full treatment for new veins that surface.
Q: What about recovery time?
A: You probably wouldn’t want to rock those booty shorts for the first two weeks, but there will not be any other significant limitations following sclerotherapy treatment. Avoid prolonged sitting and standing between treatment sessions, as well as squatting, lifting heavy weights, and other “weight-bearing” exercises such as jogging. Walking is always good for you, but walking after sclerotherapy will also prevent blood clots from forming.
You should allow for a one-month healing period before proceeding with the second series of injections in the same area.