Spider Veins How To Get Rid Of Them?
How to Get Rid of Those EVIL Spider Veins
- 1 How to Get Rid of Those EVIL Spider Veins
- 2 Spider Vein-Free Legs Can Be Yours
- 3 Leg veins: Why they appear and how dermatologists treat them
Don’t give up—there is a way!
Talk to any woman with spider veins on her legs, and she’ll probably tell you that they’re the bane of her existence. And if you’re one of the women who has them, you’re not alone: Close to 55 percent of women have some type of vein problem, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office on Women’s Health.
So What Causes Them?
The thin, twist-and-turning veins get their name from resembling spider legs. And if your mom—or someone else in the family—has them, there’s a good chance you’ll get them, as well; the most common cause is genetics (although you won’t necessarily get them if your mom did).
Certain lifestyle choices can up your risk for developing spider veins, too.
«Smoking, obesity, and hormonal birth control can all contribute to the formation of spider veins,» says Luis Navarro, M.D., a board-certified surgeon and the director of the Vein Treatment Center in New York City. «Smoking and obesity can restrict circulation, which in turn causes vessels to swell, which causes spider veins.»
Obesity, he explains, puts a lot of stress on the body in general, which can be harmful to the circulatory system. And birth control alters your hormones, which can weaken vein walls and speed up the formation of spider and varicose veins (a more serious vein problem that can cause pain and lead to serious health issues like deep vein thrombosis).
Is There Anything You Can Do to Prevent Them?
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do. When it comes to heredity, prevention isn’t possible, says Navarro. If spider veins don’t run in your family, though, working up a sweat might help keep them away. «Running and exercise are beneficial for circulation, which can help prevent veins from forming,» he says.
What Are the Treatment Options?
The most effective option is sclerotherapy, which «consists of injecting a solution, made out of salt, fatty acids, and glycerin, into the faulty vein,» says Navarro. This collapses the vein and allows the blood to flow back safely into the blood stream. Sclerotherapy feels just like any normal injection, only takes a few minutes, and doesn’t require any downtime. «Some patients may experience bruising, but [that] usually clears up in one to two weeks,» says Navarro.
A completely painless version of the treatment, called cryo-sclerotherapy, incorporates a blast of cool air that numbs the skin. The last option is foam sclerotherapy, which uses foam to cling to the vein wall, but can take longer to see results. «This is typically performed on larger veins,» says Navarro.
When it comes to these procedures, the number of sessions you’ll need varies depending on the severity of the veins—although Navarro taps the average at two to four treatments and a follow-up appointment with your doctor. Each treatment costs between $500 and $1,000 per session.
Although pricey, there is very little chance of side effects. «All spider veins start healing immediately [after treatment],» says Navarro. What’s more, «Patients will usually not develop any more. However, there is a chance that different veins will form over time, especially if veins are genetic.»
In addition to the in-office treatments, a horse chestnut seed extract supplement (available at health stores) can help alleviate swelling and redness—but it won’t get rid of the spider veins, says Navarro. Makeup and self-tanner can help camouflage, but no topical treatment will remove the swelling and discoloration completely.
Spider Vein-Free Legs Can Be Yours
Though generally harmless, hair-thin blemishes, known as spider veins, can cause some to want to cover up even in the heat. Treating spider veins is rarely a medical necessity (though some seek treatment to relieve the aching the veins can cause), but for those who want it, spider vein-free skin is just a zap away.
No one knows why some people develop spider veins and others don’t, but genetics, the hormone estrogen and possibly the hormone progesterone are thought to play a role. Spider veins appear more frequently in women than in men, and are particularly common in pregnant women and those taking oral contraceptives or hormone-replacement therapy.
Getting rid of spider veins is safe and easy. Sclerotherapy, the gold-standard treatment for spider veins, involves injecting a saline solution or detergent into the veins, causing them to clump together or clot and become less apparent. «Anybody who has veins they don’t like is a good candidate (for sclerotherapy) because it’s an incredibly safe, easy procedure,» says Dr. Lisa Donofrio, an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Yale University School of Medicine.
In some cases, several injections are required. The procedure feels like a tiny needle stick, and Donofrio says even needlephobic patients usually get through it with little difficulty. Donofrio particularly recommends treatment for people with a family history of problem veins who are showing signs relatively early — for example, those who have multiple patches of spider veins by their early 20s.
There is a strong chance — up to 90 percent — of greatly improved appearance after sclerotherapy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD). Results last for two years on average, notes Donofrio. After that, genetics or whatever other factors caused the veins to appear in the first place tend to take over, and maintenance treatment is required to keep the skin vein-free.
Charges for sclerotherapy typically range from $375 to $750 for both legs. Some doctors charge a set fee; others charge per vein treated.
Laser treatment can also eliminate spider veins, but it tends to be less effective and more expensive than sclerotherapy, with the same level of discomfort, according to Dr. Matthew P. Olivo, a dermatologist based in Westmont, New Jersey, and a fellow of the AAD. Lasers, however, are a good option for treating delicate areas and for people who are allergic to the injection solution.
Doctors often use a combination of sclerotherapy and lasers: sclerotherapy for the major part of the treatment and a laser to get rid of the tip of the vein. Laser techniques for removing spider veins are expected to improve greatly during the next decade.
While most side effects of sclerotherapy are not serious, you could experience a number of physical reactions during and following the treatment, including:
- stinging, burning or muscle cramps during injection
- skin discoloration
- new vessel growth at the site of injection
- raised, hive-like bumps or tiny sores in the treatment area
- allergic reaction to injection solution
- blood clots, in rare instances
Wearing an Ace bandage for a few days after treatment and support hose for a few weeks can help minimize some of the side effects.
The potential side effects of laser treatment are more substantial and include:
- skin discoloration
Don’t just jump into spider-vein treatment: Find a doctor who is board-certified in dermatology or cosmetic or vascular surgery and experienced in the procedures. If you have a personal or family history of clotting or bleeding disorders or large varicose veins, you may need to undergo additional evaluation. And be sure to talk with your doctor about your expectations, because treatment results will vary depending on your age and the size of the spider veins.
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Leg veins: Why they appear and how dermatologists treat them
Varicose and spider veins: Varicose veins are enlarged veins that often twist and can bulge above the surface of the skin. They may be blue, red, or flesh-colored. Spider veins often look like webs. Having spider or varicose veins can affect more than your appearance. These veins can cause serious discomfort. Some varicose veins put you at risk for a complication like a blood clot or open sores on your legs.
Minimally invasive treatment can get rid of or fade leg veins. Treatment can also diminish symptoms like pain and fatigue and prevent complications.
Why we get visible leg veins
Varicose and spider veins are damaged veins. We develop them when tiny, one-way valves inside the veins weaken. In healthy veins, these valves push blood in one direction — back to our heart. When these valves weaken, some blood flows backward and accumulates in the vein. Extra blood in the vein puts pressure on the walls of the vein.
With continual pressure, the vein walls weaken and bulge. In time, we see a varicose or spider vein.
Some people have a higher risk of developing these veins. If blood relatives have them, you have a higher risk. Many people get them because they sit or stand for long periods most days of the week. These veins also become more common with age and during pregnancy.
Spider veins can also be caused by sunlight, hormonal changes, or an injury.
How dermatologists treat leg veins
Treatment options range from self-care to minor surgery. A dermatologist may use one or more of these treatments:
Self-care: Your dermatologist can give you tips to improve your circulation. These tips include:
Elevate your legs
Sit for long periods? Get up and walk around every 30 minutes
Stand for long periods? Take a break every 30 minutes
Avoid soaking in hot baths for long periods of time
Self-care tips can help prevent new varicose and spider veins but cannot get rid of existing ones.
Compression stockings: These stockings apply steady pressure to help move the blood back to your heart. The steady pressure also lessens swelling in your lower legs and reduces the risk of getting a blood clot. You’ll still have visible leg veins, though.
If you need compression stockings, a dermatologist can examine you so that you get the proper size and right amount of pressure.
Sclerotherapy: This is the most common treatment for leg veins. Over the years, dermatologists have improved sclerotherapy to make it safer and give patients better results. Today, dermatologists use it to treat spider and small varicose veins.
If you have sclerotherapy, this is what happens during treatment:
Your dermatologist injects a chemical into the spider or varicose vein, which irritates the wall of the vein. Different areas of the vein are injected.
After the injections, your dermatologist may massage the area.
A compression stocking is then placed on each leg.
You will be observed for a time and then be able to go home.
To help prevent possible side effects, you will need to take daily walks and wear the compression stockings as directed. Most patients wear the compression stockings for 2 to 3 weeks.
You can return to work and most activities the next day.
Sclerotherapy causes the walls of the vein to stick together, so the blood cannot flow through it anymore. This improves circulation in the treated leg and reduces swelling.
Spider veins usually disappear in 3 to 6 weeks. Varicose veins take 3 to 4 months.
To get the best results, you may need 2 or 3 treatments. A dermatologist can perform these treatments during an office visit. No anesthesia is needed.
Laser treatments: Dermatologists use lasers to treat spider veins and small varicose veins. During laser treatment, your dermatologist directs the laser light at the vein.
Laser light can destroy the vein without damaging your skin.
Small spider veins may disappear immediately after treatment. Larger spider veins and varicose veins will darken, and you’ll likely see them for 1 to 3 months before they disappear. To get complete clearing, you may need 3 or more treatments.
Most patients can return to work and many of their normal activities the next day.
After each treatment, some patients need to wear compression stockings for a short time.
Every patient will need to protect the treated area from the sun for 3 to 4 weeks. This helps prevent dark spots from developing. Protecting your skin from the sun year round helps to prevent new spider veins and skin cancer.
Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA): EVLT and RFA are newer treatments. They often replace the need to surgically remove a vein.
Both treatments work inside the vein to destroy it. Dermatologists use EVLT to treat spider veins and small varicose veins. RFA is used to treat large varicose veins.
This is what happens during these treatments:
You receive local anesthesia, which numbs the area to be treated. The anesthesia also causes the area to swell.
Your dermatologist then makes a small incision and inserts a laser fiber (for EVLT) or catheter (for RFA) into the vein.
Your dermatologist activates the laser or radiofrequency device, which heats up the vein, causing it to collapse and seal shut. The heat does not harm the surrounding area.
After treatment, a compression stocking will be placed on each leg.
You are observed for a time and then able to go home.
To help prevent possible side effects, you will need to take daily walks and wear the compression stockings as directed. Most patients wear the compression stockings for 1 to 2 weeks.
You can return to work and most activities the next day.
It takes about 1 year for the treated vein to disappear with both EVLT and RFA. To get best results, you may need more than one treatment.
Physical exam essential before treatment
A physical exam helps your dermatologist decide if leg vein treatment is safe for you. During the physical exam, your dermatologist will look closely at your leg veins and ask about your medical history.
Non-invasive tests that look at the veins in your legs may also be necessary. A Doppler ultrasound will show the blood flow in your leg veins. Plethysmography (pla-thiz-muh-graph-ē) uses a blood pressure cuff to measure changes in blood volume, which can help find problems like abnormal blood flow.
After reviewing all of the information, your dermatologist can tell you if leg vein treatment is right for you and which treatment would be most effective. Sometimes, more than one type of treatment will be recommended to give you the best results and reduce side effects.
If treatment is recommended, be sure to ask whether insurance will cover it. You’ll likely have to pay if treatment is performed only to improve the look of your legs.
Skill is the key to getting best results
The results you will see depend largely on the person performing the leg vein treatment. Because dermatologists made many of the advances that have given us safer, less invasive treatments for leg veins, they have a leg up on using these treatments.
You can find a dermatologist who treats leg veins by going to, Find a dermatologist and coose the specialty of Cosmetic Dermatology.
When you call the office, ask if the dermatologist regularly treats leg veins.
Related AAD resources
Image 1 used with permission of Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology: J Am Acad Dermatol. 1998;38:461-75.
Images 2 and 3 from Thinkstock
American Academy of Dermatology, “Dermatologists have a leg up on newer minimally invasive treatments for leg veins.” News release issued July 31, 2013.
Moul DK, Housman L, et al. “Endovenous laser ablation of the great and short saphenous veins with a 1320-nm neodymium: yttrium-aluminum-garnet laser:” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2014;70:326-31.
Nijsten T and van den Bos RR, et al. “Minimally invasive techniques in the treatment of saphenous varicose veins.” J Am Acad Dermatol. 2009;60:110-9.
Weiss RA and Dover JS. “Leg vein management: Sclerotherapy, ambulatory phlebectomy, and laser surgery.” In: Kaminer MS, Dover JS, et al. Atlas of Cosmetic Surgery (1st edition). WB Saunders Company, Philadelphia, 2002: 407-32.
Weiss RA and Weiss MA.“Treatment for varicose and telangiectatic leg veins.” In: Wolff K, Goldsmith LA, et al. Fitzpatrick’s Dermatology in General Medicine (seventh edition). McGraw Hill Medical, New York, 2008: 2349-56.
Yiannakopoulou E. “Safety concerns for sclerotherapy of telangiectases, reticular, and varicose veins. Pharmacology. 2016;98:62–9.
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