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Unsightly spider and reticular (small varicose) veins of the legs, calves, and feet are a common complaint among our patients. Fortunately, a treatment called Sclerotherapy can bring an end to this problem. Sclerotherapy involves injecting minute amounts of a chemical irritant into the veins which then cause the vein to clot off, scar, and fade away from sight. Treatments take anywhere from 10 or 15 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on the number and complexity of veins being treated.

What are varicose veins?

Varicose veins are large blue, dark purple veins. They protrude from the skin and many times they have a cord-like appearance and may twist or bulge. Varicose veins are found most frequently on the legs.

What are spider veins?

Spider veins are very small and very fine red or blue veins. They are closer to the surface of the skin than varicose veins. They can look like a thin red line, tree branches or spider webs. Spider veins can be found on the legs and face and may cover a small or large area.

What are reticular veins?

Reticular veins can also be known as feeder veins. They are the blue and green veins beneath the surface of the skin.

Reticular veins enlarge because of increased pressure in the vein. They can be caused by heredity. You may have reticular veins alone but you may also have spider veins at the same time.

What causes spider and reticular veins?

Spider and reticular veins can be caused by many factors.

  • Heredity. Having a family member with prominent veins may increase the risk of you developing them. Approximately half of the people who get varicose veins have a family history of them.
  • Age. The normal wear and tear of aging may cause valves in the veins to weaken and not work as well.
  • Gender. Women are two to three times more likely to develop varicose veins than men. Up to half of American women have varicose veins. Changes in hormones due to puberty, pregnancy, menopause, or taking birth control pills may increase a woman's risk of developing varicose veins.
  • Pregnancy. During pregnancy, the growth of the fetus increases the pressure on the veins in the legs. Varicose veins that occur during pregnancy usually improve within 3 to 12 months following delivery.
  • Overweight and obesity. Having extra weight on the body can put additional pressure on the veins.
  • Prolonged standing or sitting. This is particularly true with legs bent or crossed. When standing or sitting with legs bent or crossed, the veins have to work harder to pump the blood up to the heart.

Other possible causes for varicose veins are race, posture, occupation, hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, and incompetent perforating veins.

What should I expect after Sclerotherapy treatment?

One can expect possible bruising, swelling, and low level pain/discomfort following treatment. We encourage walking for at least 15-20 minutes immediately after treatment. Following treatment compression stockings or support hose should be worn continuously for 2-3 days. For extensive varicosities, longer compression may be recommended. Post-treatment compression is necessary to reduce the risk of deep vein thrombosis and to help reduce/minimize swelling. We ask patients to return to our office 9-10 days following treatment for evaluation. At that time a small puncture may be created in the vein to release any blood clots for faster healing.

What should I avoid after receiving Sclerotherapy?

For two to three days following the treatment, avoid heavy exercise, sunbathing, long plane flights, hot bath or sauna.

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