Spider Veins: Now You See Them, Now You Don’t (Video)

Sclerotherapy treatment of choice for cosmetic condition


Many people with spider veins hesitate to wear shorts or skirts because of the cosmetic appearance of the condition. However, a 30- to 45-minute procedure called sclerotherapy is performed right in the vascular surgeon’s office and can vastly improve the appearance of spider veins, which are similar to varicose veins but smaller and not as painful.

Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a solution such as sodium chloride injects directly into the affected veins, Cleveland Clinic vascular surgeon George Anton, MD, explains. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together. Patients may experience slight discomfort from the injections. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view.

The treatment is effective in treating spider veins up to 95 to 98 percent of the time when performed by a skilled surgeon, Dr. Anton says. Sclerotherapy has been an accepted procedure since the 1930s.

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Surgeon Skill, Patience Important

Choose your vascular surgeon wisely. As shown in this video, sclerotherapy consists of very small injections — so small that you need a magnifying lens. The injections must be very precise due to the tiny size of the blood vessels. This is why the surgeon’s skill and patience are important for a successful outcome.

It’s important to select a vascular surgeon who offers various types of therapy such as sclerotherapy, laser treatments and surgery so that the right treatment is matched to the right patient, Dr. Anton says. Sclerotherapy is a better option than laser treatments for spider veins, because it spreads through many vein branches. Lasers on the other hand just affect the pinpoint area of the vein only. You are able to treat larger areas of veins with sclerotherapy.

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Disappearing Act

After the procedure, there are no restrictions on activity, and patients can even drive themselves home or to work. Dr. Anton wraps the patients’ legs with compression bandages and instructs patients to keep them on for a couple of hours, then remove and apply ice for about five minutes. Typically patients will not need to wear compression stockings after sclerotherapy is performed. Spider veins usually respond to treatment in three to six weeks. Although veins that respond to treatment usually don’t reappear, new veins may appear over time— so patients sometimes receive repeat sclerotherapy treatments.

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  • LJ

    Is this procedure covered by EHP insurance?

    • Lisa Helt

      right, since we probably have them due to being on our feet all day, and sometimes all day AND night!

  • Idena Flowers

    Do they come back?

    • Kelpie

      Sometimes…depends on weight, activity level, and (unfortunately) genetics

  • Ruth James

    My best friend has the worst problems with spider veins. He recently had a surgery to help and he said it worked magic. He was in pain after the surgery. But now it has been a month and a half and he said he feels like new! How great is that? I am glad I haven’t had this issue. But if I did, I know where I would go to get the procedure done.
    Ruth James | http://www.veinsdoc.com

  • Be

    This is dangerous. If you live to a old age you will need those vessels to help with the circulation that has slowed down as you aged. Doctors are collecting on a bet that you will not live long enough for this to be problem.

  • MimiLou

    I had this done at age 57 and they came back within a year. Venous insufficiency prevents proper circulation.

  • Lauren Mankoff Caplan

    That’s wonderful but is it covered by Medicare and Medica? I doubt it, because I bet it’s considered cosmetic surgery.

  • Misty

    I went for sclero treatment after buying a Groupon offer but first I had ultrasound, recommended by the doctor to look at my major veins only to discover that the large sophenous vein in each leg and the shorter saphenous in one leg was faulty so I had to have laser surgery first, just finished. I can’t believe how different my legs feel, all fatigue is gone. Now I can have the sclero done. If I had not had the vein treatment the spiders would have reappeared so it is useless to have sclero without knowing about the veins in your legs. I am happy to answer any questions you may have. Oh, and yes, the laser surgeries were covered by insurance but not the sclero for spiders since that is considered cosmetic.