Varicose veins are lie just beneath the surface of the skin and bulge out because of a circulation issue that causes blood to build up in the vein. More than just a cosmetic issue, they can actually burn and be painful, so effective treatment is important. Spider veins are a variety of varicose veins that are very small, and while they typically don't cause any pain they can be unsightly.
Sclerotherapy is an injection into the affected veins with a chemical that causes them to shrink and fade from the skin's surface. One new medication that recently earned FDA approval is Asclera. It is used to close spider veins (tiny varicose veins less than 1 millimeter in diameter) and reticular veins (those that are 1 to 3 millimeters in diameter). Asclera acts by damaging the cell lining of blood vessels, causing the blood vessel to close, and it is eventually replaced by other types of tissue.
On The Doctors, Dr. Raffy Karamanoukian demonstrated the procedure on 41 year old Sabrina to show how quickly the treatment worked. After the injection, she was told to wear compression garments and was then able to go about her day. The doctor did make a point to say that every patient and vein is different so while Sabrina only required one treatment, some people may need more.
Patients now have more choices than ever for spider vein treatment such as:
With the multiple treatment options available, it may be wise to consult with multiple physicians to determine the best course of treatment.
- Radiofrequency Occlusion - The vein is heated and then contracts and closes.
- Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) - using targeted laser therapy, the vein walls are minimized, shrinking them and cutting off blood flow to that vein. The circulation is cut off at the source and blood is still able to flow through all of the normal veins.
- Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy - using ultrasound, the physician locates the source of the problem and is able to determine the location and number of injections necessary to cut off blood flow to the vein.
- Compression Garments - also known as 'compression hose,' these garments help alleviate the physical effects, but don't actually remove the varicose veins.
- Laser Treatments - there are various treatments available for the smaller spider veins and the larger varicose veins that work by pulsing light into the veins sealing them off and causing them to dissolve.
- Endolaser Vein System (ELVeS) - this is a patented treatment from Biolitec that is also based on laser therapy. The procedure is performed under either local or light anesthesia and also works by cutting off circulation to the vein.
- Surgery - there are different surgical options available that seek to treat the underlying cause of the surface problem.
- VNUS Closure - using local anesthetic and light sedation, the doctor can go into the saphenous vein, which is often found to be the underlying cause of varicose vein problems, and insert a small catheter. The catheter delivers radiofrequency to the vein, making it close. Other veins take over the proper blood flow.