Spider Vein FAQs

What is a spider vein?

A spider vein or telangiectasia is a tiny vein (less than 1 mm) that is typically blue, red, or purple and visible through the skin. Although spider veins usually do not cause symptoms, many patients find the veins to be unsightly and desire treatment to improve their appearance.

What are the risk factors for developing spider veins?

Many people develop spider veins. The incidence is highest in women and is felt to have some hormonal influence. Pregnancy can accelerate the development of spider veins. Many report a family history of spider veins. On occasion, clusters of spider veins can develop after trauma to the leg or from prior surgical procedures.

What is sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which a liquid agent called a scleroscent is injected through a tiny needle into a vein. The scleroscent causes damage to the vessel wall, ultimately leading to obliteration of the vein and gradual fading.

What sclerosents do you use?

The most common sclerosent we use is Asclera® (Polidoconol). Occasionally alternative agents will be used such as sotradechol.

Is sclerotherapy painful?

Most patients do not find sclerotherapy uncomfortable. The needle used is exceptionally small, and the agents we inject usually do not cause burning or itching.

How long is a session?

Treatment sessions typically last 15-20 minutes.

Are there any restrictions after treatment?

There are no activity restrictions after treatment. This includes exercise. We recommend that the treated areas not be exposed to direct sunlight if possible. Sunscreen can be applied.

Do I have to wear compression stockings?

Wearing compression stockings after spider vein sclerotherapy is a controversial topic. We recommend wearing compression stockings for one week. Some patients may choose to wear the compression stockings for longer lengths of time, as recent studies have shown benefit.

When should I see improvement?

Typically, during the first week after spider vein sclerotherapy, the treated area may appear worse. Over the next several weeks the spider veins will begin to fade. Maximum results often take months.

How many sessions do I need to get the best results?

This is a common question patients have. The number of sessions to achieve optimal results varies from patient to patient. If the patient has a very limited cluster of spider veins, one treatment may be all that is necessary. Unfortunately, most patients have multiple clusters of spider veins that may require several sessions to achieve best results.

What are the risks of sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a very safe procedure. Complications from the procedures are rare, but include allergic reaction to the scleroscent, skin damage, and skin discoloration. There is a possibility of spider vein recurrence or the development of new spider veins.

What about laser?

Laser can be applied to spider veins, but is usually limited to very small red spider veins. We currently do not offer laser treatment of spider veins. Sclerotherapy remains the gold standard for treatment.

What should my expectations be?

Spider vein sclerotherapy can do wonders, but is not a perfect procedure. We have found through the years that patient satisfaction is ultimately tied to having grounded expectations. The realistic goal is to improve the appearance of your legs and not to achieve perfection.

Read other frequently asked questions about vein symptoms, treatment, and our office.