What are varicose veins and spider veins?
Varicose, reticular and spider veins are three related types of venous problems which, are pathologically enlarged, twisted and bulging due to a ‘back flow’ of pooled blood.
The condition is very common, affecting 40% of women and 25% of men. Valves normally help keep blood moving in one direction. However, a weakness in the vein walls and associated problems are typically responsible for creating this ‘back flow’.
These pathological or diseased veins are often called ‘incompetent’ because they are no longer functioning properly. Once they have been treated and removed, general circulation will improve.
One or more of these incompetent type veins may be present at the same time, but may not necessarily be visible. And so, in many cases, when spider veins (and facial spider veins known as telangiectasia) are present, an underlying incompetence in the larger superficial veins could be causing the problem.
Varicose veins are a chronic, wide spreading disease and must be treated seriously.
There are several factors that may contribute to the cause:
- Strong family history of varicose veins is the main potential pre-disposition;
- Female hormones associated with puberty, pregnancy and menopause;
- Occupations involving prolonged standing;
- Lack of mobility;
- Previous venous thrombosis as well as leg injury; and
Incompetent veins can cause symptoms such as aching, throbbing, cramping leg pain, heaviness, fatigue as well as burning.
In severe cases, varicose veins even when asymptomatic can result in complications such as skin ulcers, bleeding, inflammation, itchy, skin rashes, blood clots and lipodermatosclerosis.
Early treatment is important to reduce the risk of these complications occurring or getting worse.
What are the causes of it?
One of the primary causes of vein problems, is the inheritance of weak vein walls and valves that manifest as vein problems later on in life. Women seem to be more affected by varicose veins than men. The increased level of estrogen during pregnancy and use of birth control pills leads to the aggravation of varicose veins.
Other causes of vein problems include obesity, increased age, prolonged sitting with folded legs, wearing high heels, and prolonged standing.
Differences between varicose veins and spider veins
Spider veins or telangiectasia is a milder form of varicose veins. Spider veins usually measure about 1 mm or less in diameter and are located near to the skin’s surface. However, varicose veins may measure up to 8 mm in diameter and protrude on the surface of the skin.
Spider veins are generally blue, purple or red in colour forming tree or web like patterns while, varicose veins are blue and have a thick and knotted appearance.
Spider veins are commonly found on the legs (leg spider veins) and face (facial spider veins) while, varicose veins can be found on the thighs, inside of the legs and back of the calves.
How are spider veins formed?
Spider veins are formed in a similar way to Varicose Veins. It can be caused by genetics, being overweight, prolonged sitting with crossed legs, prolonged standing, during pregnancy due to hormonal influences and the use of birth control pills.
How are varicose veins formed?
Veins are responsible for carrying blood from parts of the body back to the heart for redistribution. The leg muscles contract to push the blood towards the heart against the flow of gravity. Valves present in the veins stop the blood from flowing backwards and making its way to the legs. A weakening of, or damaged vessel valves and vein walls, can lead to the blood flowing back into the veins. This collection of blood causes expansion of the veins making them protrude on the skin as a Varicose Vein.
Benefits of varicose vein and spider vein removal
Treating varicose veins provides relief from the discomfort of swelling, cramps, heaviness, skin ulcers and blood clots in the legs caused by them.
Once treated, these diseased veins will improve peripheral circulation and hence, relieve the above symptoms and complications.
Whilst the removal of both facial and leg spider veins are more for cosmetic reasons, it is important to note that early treatment reduces the risk of these complications reoccurring or worsening.
Who should have veins treatment ?
Any healthy adult above the age of 18 who has vein problems can undergo this type of procedure.
How does vein treatment work ?
Various cures for spider and varicose veins such as Laser Therapy, Surgery, Radio Frequency Ablation and Sclerotherapy are available.
Laser Therapy uses light energy directed at the veins under the skin to heat and destroy the blood vessels. Laser Therapy is very successful in the treatment of small facial spider veins.
Radio Frequency Ablation is one of the procedures that can be applied for large varicose veins.
During a procedure, a thin catheter is inserted into the veins through a small incision. Radio Frequency energy is passed through the catheter to heat and destroy the veins. The destroyed veins form scar tissues which drop off with time. This procedure is not so dissimilar to how Endogenous Laser Therapy (ELVT) uses laser heat for Ablation.
Sclerotherapy on the other hand, is a non surgical procedure of injecting incompetent veins with a Sclerosing Solution. A Sclerosant is a solution containing Sodium Tetrasecyl Sulphate and Polidocanol. Sclerosant causes irritation on the vein’s wall that helps to close it up and ultimately fade away over a period of time whilst, the blood is rerouted through healthier veins.
Usually over a period of 4-6 weeks the body will gradually remove a vein that has been treated successfully.
Optimal results may take up to 3 months and several treatment sessions may be required.
Sclerotherapy has been one of the most commonly used and effective procedures for treating venous disorders ranging from cosmetic telangiectasias, bulging varicose veins and selected vascular malformations.
Sclerotherapy remains the gold standard for treating small telangiectatic and reticular leg veins.
More recently, ultrasound guided sclerotherapy has gained acceptance as an effective and safe alternative to surgery becoming a method of treating Varicose Veins.
The key benefits include no hospital admission nor general anesthesia is necessary plus and patients can usually resume normal activities immediately.
What areas can be treated ?
All the areas can be treated where both varicose and spider veins develop.
How long will the results last ?
Even though this is a chronic condition, the results of a spider and varicose veins procedure can last for a very long time, which may require regular checkups and touchups every 1 to 2 years.
How many treatments will I need ?
The number of treatments necessary depend upon the extent of varicose and spider veins.
Normally 3 to 6 treatments are required for best results.
Preventing Spider Veins
Taking certain precautions in your lifestyle can help in preventing spider veins. You must exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight otherwise, it could lead to overworking the blood and putting pressure on the veins.
Sitting cross legged for prolonged periods of time may lead to cutting off the supply of blood to the lower limbs putting pressure on the veins.
You should also avoid wearing high heels as they can also affect the blood supply between the legs and the heart.
You should also avoid standing for a long time. However, if you have no choice but to stand, it is recommended to do minor leg exercises in between and to wear leg compressive stockings.
Veins treatment for Men
About 25% of men are affected by vein disorders such as varicose veins and the available treatments offer the same results as for women.
Cost of varicose vein removal and spider vein removal
The cost of spider veins removal depends upon the area being treated and the time required for the procedure.
The cost is $400.00 per session.
Is this procedure covered by Medicare?
If you have large and symptomatic incompetent veins Medicare may offer a rebate.
Want to know more about Veins Removal Treatment in Sydney?
Contact Skinnotion now on 02 4655 6638.
A thorough examination would be carried out to determine if you are fit for spider veins treatment.
You will have to avoid blood thinners, anti-inflammatory and OCT prior to the treatment, however you must discuss this with your doctor first.
You should walk immediately after the procedure for half an hour and take leisurely walks regularly.
You must wear support stockings for about two weeks after your varicose veins removal.
You should avoid lifting heavy weights, running and squatting for about a week.
You should not do any prolonged sitting and standing for a month.
FAQ’sWhat are the risks?
In extremely rare cases a allergy may occur.
In rare cases, infections, allergies and skin ulcers may occur.
However, during the procedure you will feel like you’re being bitten by an ant and each injection lasts for a few seconds.
In rare cases, damage to nerves, muscles and blood vessels may occur.
And, in extremely rare cases, deep vein thrombosis may develop.
These stockings squash the veins ensuring they remain collapsed.
And in most cases, the results are long lasting with about 88-90% vein clearance.
The content provided on this website is for informational purposes only and in no way intended to substitute the professional medical advice given by a physician during an in-office consultation and examination. Any photographs/illustrations on this website cannot be copied and reprinted in any way without written permission from Skinnotion.