Spider veins and microinjection sclerotherapy
Spider veins, thread veins, telangiectasia or spider capillaries of the legs are a common problem, particularly affecting women. Small purple, blue or red vessels, sometimes called sunburst or stardust veins because of their appearance, can occur anywhere on the leg from the top of the thigh to the foot. While these spider veins do not pose any major health problem, they may cause discomfort. Many people who have spider capillaries find them unsightly and often attempt to conceal them with clothing or cosmetic cover ups.
Microinjection sclerotherapy is a simple treatment for unwanted spider veins giving an expected 70% improvement.
Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a doctor, using a syringe with a very small needle, injects a solution directly into the vessel. This causes the vein to become irritated and shut, thus prohibiting the blood from flowing through it. Bandaging is not required.
Most patients report little discomfort, although some notice some tingling during the injections. A few patients experience itching for several minutes after the treatment.
Initially the treated area looks like an insect bite. Bruises develop over the next 48 hours. These take some weeks to fade, depending on the size and type of veins treated, but the legs always look worse before they get better!
You should not sunbathe or use a sun bed for 3 weeks following a treatment session but it is not necessary to avoid the sun completely. Vigorous leg treatments should not take place during this time either. However, you may bath or shower the same day, do exercise classes and swim the next, and need not alter your usual regime.
Most patients experience no adverse effects. Very occasionally some minor side effects can occur. These include pigmentation, despite avoiding sunbathing, which resolves in time but takes considerably longer than the bruising to fade; and slight blistering which occurs when small amounts of solution seeps into the surrounding skin areas. These blisters tend to heal rapidly, though a small dark area resembling a freckle may remain. These marks, however, usually resolve in time.
The capillaries destroyed by sclerotherapy will not recur but the treatment cannot prevent the development of further telangiectasia.
No one has determined for certain why some people are affected with spider veins and others are not, however, some families seem predisposed to the condition. Trauma to the leg, in the form of blows or injury may contribute to the formation of these capillaries and long periods of standing or sitting may also have causative factors. Paradoxically some forms of exercise may also predispose to the condition. More women than men seem to develop this condition, perhaps as a result of pregnancy or because of hormonal changes. Sloppy footwear may be a factor in some people as, like sitting and standing, it slows down the venous return. Generally spider veins cannot be prevented, only treated as they occur.