Many of us, particularly as we age, will get spider or varicose veins in our legs. You know the ones. Those visible blue or red varicose veins that bulge out. It’s like they are saying, “look at me” from behind your knees. Not only are they unsightly, but they can also be really uncomfortable. Some may even put you at risk for other complications like blood clots or open sores. So, while your first instinct may be to get rid of them so you can proudly wear shorts again, you’d be taking care of yourself in doing so. A qualified, board-certified dermatologist is the right expert to discuss leg veins with.
Get a Physical Exam Before Treating Leg Veins
Schedule an appointment with a dermatologist so they can fully assess the need and make recommendations. They may use a non-invasive test like a Doppler ultrasound to examine blood flow in your veins or plethysmography to measure changes in blood volume to help diagnose abnormal blood flow.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
These damaged veins occur when the one-way valves inside the vein weakens, causing blood to flow backward and accumulate thus putting pressure on the walls of the vein and causing them to bulge. That’s why they stick out so vividly.
You are more likely to develop varicose veins if it’s in your family history, with age or pregnancy, or if you sit or stand for long periods of time regularly. Many of us sit at a desk all day or stand in a kitchen or medical office. It’s important to switch it up to keep blood flowing smoothly.
What You Can Do About Leg Veins
The good news is you can actually do something about them. In terms of self-care, you need to find ways to improve your circulation. You cannot get rid of existing veins with these tips, by you can avoid new ones.
Prevent new varicose and spider veins by:
- Elevating your legs
- Walk around every 30 minutes or take a break every 30 minutes (whatever breaks up your routine)
- Avoid long, hot soaks in the bath
- Exercise regularly
- Wear compression stockings, as recommended
Varicose Vein Treatment Options
While you may be able to prevent new veins, your existing ones will need to be treated professionally. There are a couple of treatment options to choose from.
Sclerotherapy is the most common varicose and spider vein treatment. During this procedure, a chemical is injected into the vein, which irritates the wall of the vein closing it up so blood can no longer flow through it. This reduces swelling and improves circulation. You’ll need to wear compression stockings and take daily walks for a couple of weeks, but you can return to work the next day.
After sclerotherapy, spider veins typically disappear in up to 6 weeks while varicose veins can take up to 4 months to disappear. You may need a couple of treatments for the best results.
Laser Treatments are another option. After a laser treatment, spider veins may disappear right away while larger ones and varicose veins will likely disappear in one to three months. Don’t forget to protect your skin from the sun to avoid dark spots.
In addition to sclerotherapy and laser treatments, two of the newer treatment options are endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA). In both procedures, a laser fiber (for EVLT) or catheter (for RFA) is inserted into the vein, heating up and causing the vein to collapse. You will still be advised to wear compression stockings and take regular walks afterwards.
In any of these methods, you’ll see (and feel) incredible results. Start by practicing self-care. The Derm Group can assist with the rest.