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sclerotherapy

Diminishing Unsightly 'Spider Veins'

Millions of women are bothered by spider veins - those small yet unsightly clusters of red, blue or purple veins that most commonly appear on the thighs, calves and ankles. In fact, it's estimated that at least half of the adult female population is plagued with this common cosmetic problem.

The Center for Clinical Age Management treats spider veins with sclerotherapy. In this procedure, veins are injected with a sclerosing solution, which causes them to collapse and fade from view. The procedure may also remedy the bothersome symptoms associated with spider veins, including aching, burning, swelling and night cramps.

Although this procedure has been used in Europe for more than 50 years, it has only become popular in the United States during the past decade. The introduction of sclerosing agents that are mild enough to be used in small veins has made sclerotherapy predictable and relatively painless.

What Are Spider Veins?

Spider veins - known in the medical world as telangiectasias or sunburst varicosities - are small, thin veins that lie close to the surface of the skin. Although these super-fine veins are connected with the larger venous system, they are not an essential part of it.

A number of factors contribute to the development of spider veins, including heredity, pregnancy and other events that cause hormonal shifts, weight gain, occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing, and the use of certain medications.

The Procedure

A typical sclerotherapy session is relatively quick, lasting only about 15 to 45 minutes. Approximately one injection is administered for every inch of spider vein - anywhere from five to 40 injections per treatment session. As the procedure continues, you will feel small needle sticks and possibly a mild burning sensation. However, the needle used is so thin and the sclerosing solution is so mild that pain is usually minimal.

It's not uncommon to experience some cramping in the legs for the first day or two after the injections. This temporary problem usually doesn't require medication. Support hose will be required for up to 5 days but normal activities can be resumed. The treated veins will look worse before they begin to look better. Bruising and reddish areas at the injection sites will be visible but they will diminish within one month.

After each sclerotherapy session, the veins will appear lighter. The number of treatments required varies based on the severity of the problem. Most require 3 to 5 treatments scheduled 3 to 4 weeks apart in order achieve optimal results.

Sclerotherapy will eliminate the noticeable treated veins for good, but it does not prevent new spider veins from emerging in the future. As time passes, “touch-ups” or full treatments may be required for new veins that surface.

Your New Look

Most patients are pleased with the difference sclerotherapy makes. The skin of your legs will appear younger, clearer and more healthy-looking. If you've been wearing long skirts and slacks to hide your spider veins, you'll now be able to broaden your fashion horizons. Often, patients are surprised at the dramatic difference in appearance between a treated leg and an untreated one.

Although sclerotherapy will obliterate the noticeable veins for good, it's important to remember that treatment will not prevent new spider veins from emerging in the future. As time passes, you may find that you need "touch-ups" or full treatments for new veins that surface. But even if you choose not to have further sclerotherapy, your legs will look better than if you never had treatment at all.