Can little red lines wreck your self-confidence? The short answer is yes, especially if those red lines are spider veins. While less painful than their more severe cousins, varicose veins, spider veins can be unsightly and occur in the face or legs.
Scott Darling, a physician with Missouri Vein Specialists in Liberty, Missouri, says that spider veins are caused by venous hypertension. Unlike varicose veins, which are wrapped in muscles and can become ropey, spider veins are veins dilated close to the skin’s surface, appearing as red webbing.
Although spider veins are primarily a cosmetic concern, they can indicate a more serious vein issue. Darling recommends consulting with a vein specialist before choosing any course of action. Using infrared light, vein specialists can determine whether treatment will be effective for you.
If treatment is in the cards for you, there are two options, laser treatments and sclerotherapy. Laser treatments tend to work well in patches above the heart level and when treating blue veins that lie beneath the most superficial veins.
For spider veins in the legs, sclerotherapy is the better option. A vascular surgeon will inject the spider veins with a solution that collapses the vein walls using a tiny needle. Afterward, patients wear compression stockings for roughly a week. The veins seal, and the blood reroutes to more stable veins. Results appear in five to seven days, but each case is different. Some patients may need multiple treatments.
Despite the efficacy of these treatments, Darling says that vein treatment is an ongoing battle.
“Spider veins are kind of like weeds in the garden. We’re not going to cure your spider veins because they will form intermittently. We recommend follow-ups every one to three years,” Darling says.
Ongoing treatment may sound daunting, but Darling says that treatments are quick and relatively painless. If you’re interested in treating your spider veins, search out a vascular surgeon or specialist and say see you later to unsightly and uncomfortable vein issues—for now.