Spider veins and leg veins are among the most common and most visible vascular problems, and they become even more common as we get older. Although both women and men can have these blue or purplish veins, they tend to appear a lot more often in women. In fact, according to the American Society for Dermatologic Surgery, about 40% of all women have spider veins or varicose veins. And by age 80, 80% of women have at least one of these types of problematic veins. But it’s not just older people who get spider veins or varicose veins. Even women in their 20s might start developing these dysfunctional veins if they have a genetic predisposition to them.
What causes unsightly leg veins?
That purplish, bluish, bulging appearance of spider and varicose veins means those veins aren’t “working” the way they’re supposed to. Circulation uses two “pump” systems: The first is, of course, your heart. And the second involves a series of tiny valves inside your veins. These valves open and close rapidly and in succession, keeping blood moving in the right direction. When one of these tiny valves fails, blood slows and “backs up” in that area, causing bulging and discoloration.
In addition to female gender, other factors that increase your risk of developing vascular problems include obesity, older age, pregnancy, sedentary lifestyle, family history, and certain types of injuries and medical conditions, including clotting disorders.
Two safe treatment options
Spider veins and varicose veins are really noticeable, and they’re also really unattractive. When they appear on your legs, they can be difficult to camouflage — especially when they form on the lower legs where skirts, shorts, swimwear, and activity wear make them visible. At the Aesthetic Surgery Center, Dr. Macdonald offers two state-of-the-art options to get rid of unsightly veins — laser vein therapy and sclerotherapy — so you can enjoy better-looking legs without surgery.
Sclerotherapy, Dr. Macdonald’s preferred treatment for leg veins, is a safe, time-tested method to get rid of spider veins on your legs and on other areas of the body, as well. Sclerotherapy uses a special chemical solution that’s injected directly into the damaged vein using very small needles. Once the solution is injected, it irritates the vein lining, causing an inflammatory response that makes the walls of the vein stick to each other, closing off the vein to the flow of blood. Over the following weeks, your body reabsorbs the vein and metabolizes it, leaving your skin clear and healthy-looking.
Laser vein treatment
Laser vein treatments use highly focused laser energy to target damaged vessels without incisions. Once the laser energy penetrates the skin, it’s absorbed by the vessel. The energy gently heats the vessel, causing it to collapse. The laser system is designed to ensure the energy is absorbed by the vessel tissue while leaving your skin and other surrounding tissues unharmed
Both treatments are well tolerated, and most people experience very little discomfort. With sclerotherapy, you might have some cramping during the treatment and slight bruising afterward, and laser treatment has been likened to the feeling you get when a rubber band is snapped against your skin. After treatment, it’ll take a few weeks for the vein to completely disappear, and you may need to wear compression socks for a week or so to aid the healing process. Most treatments take under a half-hour, and you can typically go back to your regular activities right afterward.
Some people worry that once the vein is gone, it will affect their circulation. But that’s not true. First, spider veins are damaged, so they’re already not circulating your blood normally. And second, once the vein is gone, neighboring veins will handle local circulation, and new, tiny veins may also form. That means you can get rid of damaged, unsightly veins without worrying about any negative effects for your blood flow.
Take a step toward better-looking legs
Dr. Michael R. Macdonald begins every treatment with a complete vein evaluation to ensure your treatment is the best one for your needs, your goals, and your vascular health. To learn more about vein treatments at the Aesthetic Surgery Center, book an appointment online today.