What are spider veins?
Spider veins are small, twisted blood vessels that are visible through the skin. They may be red, purple, or blue and most often appear on the legs or face. They take their name from their striking spiderweb pattern.
What are varicose veins?
Varicose veins are larger blood vessels that have become swollen and twisted. They appear dark blue and stick out from the skin like raised tunnels. Varicose veins can develop anywhere in the body, but are most common on the legs and ankles.
What causes spider and varicose veins?
Healthy veins carry blood to the heart through a series of one-way valves, which control the direction of blood flow. Veins are surrounded by smooth muscles which contract to help move blood to the heart. When a one way valve in a vein is defective, some blood can flow backward and pool inside the vein. As blood pools within the vein, pressure builds and the vessel wall weakens, causing the vein to bulge and twist. Depending on the size of the blood vessel, the point of pressure, and extent of swelling, the result is either a spider or varicose vein.
Diagnosing spider and varicose veins
Spider veins and varicose veins are easy to diagnose. Dr. Wayne Smith will examine the vein patterns on and around the treatment area.
Dr. Wayne Smith may inject your abnormal vein to cause the vessel to collapse and the blood inside to clot. Over time, the vessel will turn to scar tissue and disappear. After treatment with sclerotherapy, spider veins generally disappear in three to six weeks, while varicose veins may take three to four months to respond. The veins will not reappear.
Treatment: laser therapy
Laser therapy and intense light pulse (IPL) destroys tiny spider veins and small varicose veins with heat. The heat causes scar tissue to form, which eventually closes off the vein. For some patients, this is an appealing alternative to injections, especially if the veins and broken capillaries are small.