If you sometimes avoid showing your legs because you have spider veins - small clusters of red, blue or purple veins that appear on the thighs, calves and ankles - you are not alone. It’s estimated that at least half of all women are bothered by this common cosmetic problem. In some women, spider veins become noticeable in their early 20’s. For others, the veins may not become obvious until they reach their 40’s. Men get spider veins, too. However, usually they are concealed by hair growth on the leg.
A number of factors may contribute to the development of spider veins in the legs, including:
- Hormonal shifts
- Weight gain
- Occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing
Spider vein treatment is a highly individualized procedure. Good candidates for this treatment:
- Are bothered by spider veins anywhere on your body
- Have a positive outlook and realistic goals for your spider vein treatment
- Are committed to following your plastic surgeon’s prescribed course of treatment
A common method of treating spider veins in the legs and ankles is with sclerotherapy. In this treatment, sclerosing solution is injected into each affected vein, causing the vein to collapse and fade from view. Although everyone is different, you can generally expect to receive one injection for every inch of spider vein that is treated. Bright light and magnification may be used to ensure maximum precision while the skin is held taut to inject sclerosing solution. A cotton ball and compression tape is often applied to each injection site as it is finished.
Leg veins may also be treated with a laser. In this method, an intense beam of light is directed at the spider vein, which obliterates it through the skin. Typically, two or more sessions are needed to obtain the desired results. Laser therapy is sometimes used in combination with sclerotherapy.