Millions of women are bothered by spider veins – those small yet unsightly clusters of red, blue or purple veins that most commonly appear on the thighs, calves and ankles.

Spider veins – known in the medical world as telangiectasias or sunburst varicosities – are small, thin veins that lie close to the surface of the skin.

A number of factors contribute to the development of spider veins, including heredity, pregnancy, weight gain, hormonal imbalance, occupations or activities that require prolonged sitting or standing, and injury.

Varicose veins differ from spider veins in a number of ways. Varicose veins are larger – usually more than a quarter-inch in diameter, darker in color and tend to bulge. Varicose veins are also more likely to cause pain, burning, swelling and cramps.

Varicose veins form when the valves inside the veins get damaged, allowing the valves to leak and blood to trickle back down instead of up toward the heart. The vessels then become enlarged and tortuous from the extra blood.

WHAT IS SCLEROTHERAPY?

Injection Sclerotherapy is series of injections in spider and varicose veins with a sclerosing (irritating) solution (mainly Sodium Morrhuate), which causes them to collapse and fade from view. Sclerotherapy can help aching swollen legs.

WHAT TO EXPECT FROM SCLEROTHERAPY
These injections are well tolerated with minimal bruising and side effects. After sclerotherapy, the treated veins will appear lighter or disappear completely. Two or more sessions are usually required to achieve optimal results.

RISKS RELATED TO TREATMENT
Bruising is common, but serious risks are rare and include the formation of blood clots in the veins, inflammation, allergic reactions to the sclerosing solution, and skin injury that could leave a small but permanent scar.

A common cosmetic complication is pigmentation irregularity – brownish splotches on the affected skin that may take months or a year to fade. Stocking worn afterwards can reduce the side effects, as well as use of Vitamin K cream.

THE PROCEDURE
A typical sclerotherapy session is relatively quick, lasting only about 15 to 45 minutes. 1 syringe will be injected in anywhere from 5 to 40 veins per treatment session. The needle is very thin and you may feel mild burning sensation, and pain is usually minimal.

AFTER YOUR TREATMENT
In addition to the compression tape applied during the procedure, tight-fitting support hose may be prescribed to guard against blood clots and to promote healing. The tape can be removed after 24 hours but you should wear the support hose for 72 hours or more.

The treated veins may look worse before they begin to look better.