Injection Spider Vein Treatment in St. Louis
One of the true markers of the passage of time is the appearance of clusters of tiny red, purple, and blue lines on our thighs, calves, and ankles. Their weblike appearance gives them their name — spider veins. While not painful in most cases, spider veins are certainly a pain when they start showing up.
Fortunately, they’re easy to take care of. At Renaissance Plastic Surgery we use sclerotherapy to make your spider veins go away.
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are small superficial clusters of veins that are close to the skin surface. Because they are carrying dark, de-oxygenated blood, they are visible on the skin surface. They are common in women as they age. There is a genetic component to developing spider veins, as well.
Where do spider veins come from?
A quick lesson in the human vascular system explains why they develop. Veins return deoxygenated blood to the heart. In the legs, the veins face an uphill battle, fighting gravity the entire way. When we’re young, the muscles and tissues surrounding our veins help push the blood, but as we age these tissues weaken and don’t provide the same support. The vein walls also weaken. This allows blood to pool. When the veins are close to the surface, they can be seen through the outer skin. These are spider veins. Other factors that can lead to a person developing these veins are jobs that require prolonged sitting or standing, heredity, weight fluctuations, pregnancy, and hormonal changes. Spider veins are more common for women and can usually be found on the thighs, ankles, and calves. They can also develop on the cheeks.
What is sclerotherapy?
It’s interesting in this high-tech age that the best, most effective treatment for unsightly spider veins was developed way back in the 1930s — sclerotherapy. In these treatments, a sclerosant solution made with either hypertonic saline or sodium tetradecyl sulfate is injected into or adjacent to the spider veins. The sclerosant irritates and inflames the vein walls, causing them to collapse and close off the vein. This instantly diminishes the appearance of the vein. Over the next few weeks, any remaining signs vanish as the body absorbs the now-unused vein. Any blood that was routed through the vein is instantly rerouted to an adjacent, healthy vein. These treatments only take a few minutes and will usually remove most spider veins in a single treatment. Larger veins may need a second session to fully disappear.
How does Sclerotherapy Work?
Sclerotherapy is an injection treatment that works to close the problem vein so that it fades over time. A small amount of a sclerosing saline solution is injected into the vein. The solution is used to displace the blood inside the affected vein, causing it to collapse and be absorbed naturally by the body. This form of vein treatment will sometimes require more than one treatment for full resolution of the spider veins.
You may be provided with compression stockings after your procedure to help minimize swelling, but most patients are able to resume their normal routine immediately after their procedure. However, higher levels of activity or exercise should be avoided for at least the first 24 hours. It may take several months to achieve full results, but sclerotherapy often achieves 60 to 80% improvement of the treated spider veins.
Some patients may also consider alternative vein treatments, such as laser vein removal.
What is the advantage of using sclerotherapy for spider veins?
The two treatment options for removing spider veins are sclerotherapy and laser therapy. We feel sclerotherapy works best on spider veins on the legs and feet. Sclerotherapy is excellent for these veins because they are larger than those that form on the cheeks. On leg veins, we find laser energy usually takes more than a single treatment to fully remove the veins, and sclerotherapy usually only needs a single session.
On the face, however, the spider veins are smaller and laser energy is all that’s needed to close them off.
How many sclerotherapy treatments will I need for my spider veins?
Most spider vein clusters dramatically lessen in appearance instantly with the injection of the sclerosant solution. Then the body fully removes then over the new few weeks. For most veins, just a single session is needed. If your spider veins are larger, they could need a second treatment.
Are my sclerotherapy results permanent?
The spider veins we close off with sclerotherapy will be scavenged by the body and will disappear. They are gone for good. Of course, that doesn’t guarantee you won’t form new spider veins down the road, but the veins we treat are permanently removed.
Is there recovery after spider vein treatment?
There isn’t any recovery. If we remove a series of spider veins, we’ll want you to wear a compression hose for one week. This helps the body start the process of absorbing the closed-off veins. Otherwise, walking and moderate exercise are fine immediately after your procedure. You should avoid any really strenuous exercise for about one week, however.
How do I care for my skin after spider vein treatment?
There aren’t any special skin care requirements after these treatments.
Are there risks or side effects with sclerotherapy?
As mentioned above, sclerotherapy has been around since the 1930s. It has been used to treat tens of millions of spider veins, and it continues to be the treatment method of choice. There is a very low risk of reactions to the sclerosant solution.
After your session, you may have some redness at the injection sites and possibly some minor irritation, but this passes quickly. There may be some slight bruising from the injections, but this resolves within a week or so.
Does sclerotherapy hurt?
Our aestheticians at Renaissance Plastic Surgery use very tiny needles for your sclerotherapy, and the injections are not made to any great depth because spider veins are close to the surface of the skin. These factors make each injection feel akin to little more than a pinprick. They are not painful, and the treatment only takes a few minutes.