As many as half of all women over 50 suffer from varicose veins and spider veins, which are caused by faulty valves within the veins. Contrary to popular belief, crossing your legs doesn't cause this problem, but standing for extended periods of time and a genetic predisposition do. When blood can't be pumped back to the heart because the valves aren't functioning properly, the blood will pool in the veins and they become enlarged. Typically, the affected veins are near the surface of the skin and are not the more important deep veins, and they can therefore be removed or collapsed without any problems for the circulatory system
Traditionally, surgery was needed to remove the veins, but now there are more options than ever before. Whether you have small spider veins or larger varicose veins, talk to your doctor about available treatments and what's right for you.
Asclera is an injectable sclerotherapy medicine from Merz Aesthetics. In March 2010, Asclera gained FDA approval for the treatment of uncomplicated spider and reticular veins in the lower extremities, but has not been studied in larger varicose veins. Like many sclerotherapy treatments, it works by damaging the lining of the blood vessels, causing them to close and eventually disappear. The physician injects the medicine directly into the spider veins with a very fine point needle. Patients report that treatment is much more comfortable than traditional saline sclerotherapy injections. Multiple sessions are typically required and results are seen in a few weeks.
Patients can also zap their spider veins away with devices like the Veinwave. The treatment is generally considered a safe and virtually pain free method which uses an ultrasonic pulse to coagulate the spider veins, which disappear almost immediately. The doctor inserts a tiny needle just below the skin, near the vein and sends the pulse, heating and eradicating the vein, typically in one treatment. It's common for some patients to see some mild redness at the treatment site which usually goes away after a couple of days. According to the Veinwave website, after a few days some small marks may appear in the treated area which will disappear on their own.
Another options is the Cynergy Vascular Workstation from Cynosure. This laser offers MultiPlex technology, which treats several vascular and pigmented lesions but has shown great promise in erasing spider veins. The device makes use of 2 distinct wavelengths and the laser light is absorbed by the blood in the vein. The blood then coagulates causing the vein to disappear. Most patients report that the treatment only tingles slightly but isn't painful. Depending on the severity of the spider veins, the number of treatments will vary from 2-3 sessions. Effect is immediate with little to no side effects.
While the treated spider veins won't return, it is possible to see new veins develop over time. Wearing compression hose, getting regular exercise and elevating your feet are a few ways to help prevent spider veins from forming.