The wear and tear that comes with time shows up on our skin. For many of us, adulthood and various stages of life (eg pregnancy) come with skin changes. I’ve recently had several patients ask me about pesky spider veins and varicose veins.
These are veins that become dilated or “loose” over time. They lose their elasticity and like old panty hose, become loose and wider. They become more visible through the skin and this becomes a cosmetic concern for many. Like leaky pipes, they also become functionally deficient.
So how can varicose veins and spider veins be treated?
A number of treatments exist for each type of dilated vein. The varicose veins can be removed or “stripped” surgically, or a laser device can be inserted up the vein to destroy the vein. Sometimes special solutions can be injected that will also lead to destruction of the vein, a procedure called sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy can also be done for spider veins. Spider veins are called such because the appearance of the reddish or purplish veins can resemble legs of a spider. A special laser can also be used to get rid of these spider veins, although this treatment is sometimes less effective than sclerotherapy.
If you are interested in removal, find a surgeon who is experienced in spider vein and varicose vein removal. Dermatologists often perform sclerotherapy and laser treatment for the smaller spider veins, whereas vascular surgeons or interventional radiologists often take care of varicose vein removal.
Additionally, ask your physician about compression stockings. These are stockings that can be bought both off the shelf and are also available by prescription. Your physician can determine how much compression is appropriate for you and prescribe these socks for you. As someone who is on her feet a lot at work, I have found these compression stockings to be very helpful in preventing leg and foot fatigue and preventing the appearance of dilated veins. During pregnancy, the legs often swell, and this becomes a time when women develop these dilated veins. It would be a good idea to talk to your obstetrician about compression stockings if you are experiencing the swelling or dilated veins.