For millions of women, wearing skirts, shorts, or swimsuits is a nerve-wracking undertaking due to unsightly leg veins. For some, these leg veins can be painful. Patients describe itching, dull throbbing, a burning sensation, and generalized discomfort, usually at the end of the day in areas with a large amount of leg veins. These symptoms can be helped by using support hose all day long, but it is difficult to tolerate these in the 90+ degree temperature of the Sacramento summer. The blood vessels do not resolve on their own and therefore treatment may be helpful. If you are ready to show off your legs again, or just get rid of the discomfort, then you probably want to know more about sclerotherapy and laser therapy.
Frequently Asked Questions
What causes vein disease?
Approximately 80 million Americans suffer from some type of vein disease, with women being the majority of those who seek treatment.
Note: There are several types of visible leg veins. Spider veins are the fine red blood vessels that occur on the thighs and lower legs, usually in clusters, that often appear as a large bruise. Reticular veins are the medium sized veins which are slightly below the skin and appear bluish/greenish in color. Varicose veins are larger and darker and usually look like they’re bulging.
Essentially, varicose veins are produced when small valves in veins stop working and cause the blood returning to the heart to flow in the wrong direction. This causes the veins to multiply to accommodate the extra blood, and occasionally to bulge.
These veins appear mainly on women after the age of 30, but can occur earlier. Other factors that can affect development of these veins include heredity, pregnancy, obesity, sitting or standing for long periods of time, and hormonal influences.
Although these veins are not truly a health problem, they are a problem in that they cause many women to feel self-conscious about their legs. Many women refrain from wearing dresses or shorts because they are concerned about the looks of the veins on their legs.
What is Laser Therapy for leg veins?
Laser therapy is one of two ways to treat spider veins in the legs. Pulses of light energy directed at the veins cause them to fade and disappear. The laser that we used, the Candela laser, is effective in treating superficial red spider veins and deeper reticular veins. During the treatment, We apply the laser to your skin over the veins. The laser energy causes the spider veins to coagulate and shrink. Treatments usually do not require any type of sedatives, pain medications, or injections of anesthetic, though you are likely to experience mild discomfort similar to having a small rubber band snap against your skin.
What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy involves injections of a specialized sclerosing agent which collapses the veins and lets them fade away. It normally takes a series of treatments spaced about 4-6 weeks apart to achieve the goal. Since it is common for additional veins to develop over time, maintenance treatments might be needed.
What is the treatment like and what can I expect?
A typical sclerotherapy session takes about 30 minutes, during which time we make a series of 20-40 injections into the unwanted veins. After the treatment, we recommend wearing tight fitting support hose (which you purchase in advance and bring to the appointment) for a period of two weeks. Walking is encouraged during this time.
Immediately following treatment, the spider veins will be darker and more visible. The treated veins usually look worse before they begin to look better. Over the following two to six weeks, the spider veins will fade. After each treatment, you will see a 30-40% improvement in these veins. An average of three treatments are required at three-month intervals to produce the desired results.
What type of solution is injected in my veins?
In our clinic, we use Sotradechol or Polidochanol (Asclera) solution for injection. Both of these are FDA approved solutions for treatment of leg veins.
What are the complications and/or adverse side effects?
Occasionally, patients can have hives and/or itching after the treatment. Over the counter Benadryl can be used for relieving these symptoms.
Sometimes, sclerotherapy treatments can cause the development of brown discoloration on the skin which may take a long time to fade. Also, one can get matting, where a group of tiny red blood vessels develop around the treatment area. This can occasionally be treated with the IPL (Fotofacial) device.
Can I prevent varicose and spider veins?
Varicose veins can be prevented by regular exercise, which improves leg muscles and circulation. It is best not to sit cross legged and to elevate the legs during rest. Avoid standing in one place for long periods of time. If your job consists of retail sales or cosmetology and you have to stand in one place for long periods of time, consider support stockings or standing exercises such as going up and down on your tip-toes.