Spider vein treatment - legs

Leg Veins and Spider Vein Treatment

Leg veins: the nemesis of women over 40! We really notice our leg veins and spider in spring and summer; but the best time to get rid of them is fall and winter. Spider vein treatment often results in some bruising and discoloration for 1-3 weeks. And then it can take 2-3 months to see the full results of the treatment. Also, more than one treatment is usually needed. That’s why there’s no better time than now to start! Here’s what you need to know about spider vein treatment to get your legs looking great.

Leg spider vein treatment: Dr. Irwin performs sclerotherapy to treat leg veins

Options for Leg Vein and Spider Vein Treatment

Unsightly leg veins come in two types:

  1. Bulging varicose-type veins
  2. Smaller, redder spider veins

If you have the bulgy varicose veins: you’ll probably need to see a vascular specialist (especially if they are painful). They treat these larger veins by threading a tiny catheter with a laser on the tip into the vein. When the catheter is withdrawn, it heats the inside of the vein, which causes it to collapse. Sometimes ultrasound is used to evaluate possible malfunction of the deeper veins or to guide a small needle into the vein for injection.

For the smaller veins (sometimes called spider veins, telangectasias or telangs): your cosmetic dermatologist can treat them with sclerotherapy or laser leg vein treatment. Small blue veins (usually less than a half centimeter) can sometimes be treated as well, usually with sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is injections of a gentle solution using an acupuncture-sized needle into the blood vessels. This irritates the inside of the vessel and causes them to shrink and slowly disappear. Laser treatments use a powerful, focused light beam to heat the inside of the vessel for a similar effect. With either spider vein treatment, you’ll need one to three sessions and then maintenance every one to three years.

Are these treatments safe? Neither one works for everyone, but they are both time-tested and safe when done by a skilled and experienced provider. Your provider can advise you on which spider vein treatment would be best for you.

What is sclerotherapy? As I said above, sclerotherapy uses a very small needle to inject a gentle solution into the vein to make it shrink up. There are two types of solutions we use in sclerotherapy: a concentrated sugar solution (glycerin) and a very dilute, mild detergent solution. These solutions are much less painful than the older saline solution.

What is laser leg vein therapy? Laser leg vein treatment uses a long wave 1064 YAG laser to improve and eliminate the appearance of small leg veins. The laser light bypasses the outer layer of the skin and injures the small blood vessels of the leg. This causes them to gradually shrink and go away. This spider vein treatment works best for small-to-medium-sized vessels.

Which spider vein treatment is right for me? In my opinion, sclerotherapy works better for more people than laser leg vein treatments, so I often end up recommending sclerotherapy over laser leg vein treatments. But this depends of course on the person and their veins. You should not have sclerotherapy if you are pregnant or diabetic.

Do leg vein treatments work for everyone? The majority of people who have leg vein treatments will be cleared of their veins after 1-4 treatments, or at least see good improvement. Approximately five to ten percent of patients who undergo leg vein treatments have poor to fair results. In rare instances, the veins may become worse after leg vein treatments.

How will my legs look after a spider vein treatment? They will look worse for a week or two. The veins will be redder and bruised. After approximately one month, your legs will generally look like they have not improved. This is normal. It often takes a full 90 days to see the effects of a treatment. Especially over large veins, you may have some brown staining for up to 3-12 months. The brown color is iron pigment (hemosiderin) that is left over from the red blood cells decomposing and being carried away by your own immune system.

How long should I wait between treatments? Since your legs will look worse for approximately one month, and improvement occurs over 2-3 months, you should wait a minimum of 2 to 3 months between appointments.

A Product to Cover Your Leg Veins and Spider Veins

This is a good product to cover the veins on your legs: Tantalizer Body Bronzing Luminizer by Lorac.

What is it? It’s a body makeup. Doesn’t it wear off on clothes? It absolutely does NOT! The first time I used it, I was so sure it would rub off that I put sweats on to test it. After 2-5 minutes, it doesn’t budge. I’ve even went swimming with it on, and it wore off gradually and evenly. I’ve lotioned my legs and then put it on, and it still stays put. It covers leg veins and bruises well.


See Dr. Irwin’s expert answers to other readers’ questions on leg veins and spider veins:
When is the best time to treat leg veins?
How do I treat leg veins?