Varicose veins, spider veins, differences and treatments

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Varicose veins are a very prevalent. Some estimates go up to 10% of the population having a varicose vein problem (diagnosed and un-diagnosed). They are the large, sometimes bulging veins we see on the surface of the skin, but also commonly present under the skin surface and can  be seen using a duplex ultrasound machine . Typically they are 4mm wide (3/16th Inch) or larger. They can cause pain, swelling, itching, feeling of heaviness, or can be totally non-symptomatic. There is a strong hereditary factor involved. They tend to run in families.

Spider veins are extremely common smaller superficial veins that could look like a “bruise” or a “starburst”,. They are extremely common, smaller than varicose veins, and can cause burning and itching occasionally in addition to their unsightly appearance.

Spider veins are best treated with injections of solutions that cause closure of the vein, letting the body dispose of it naturally afterwards. Although you hear about Lasers being used in spider vein treatment, and it does sound more”advanced” and “state of the art”, the fact is unfortunately up-til-now Lasers have proven to be generally ineffective, more painful and carry a higher risk of complications when used. The standard of treatment is Sclerotherapy, which is the injection of irritant  solutions to shut the vein down. It requires more skill, but is safer and truly effective!.

Varicose veins can be treated with sclerotherapy as well, in addition to surgical removal, and a  Diode Laser,inserted under the skin surfface and guided with the ultrasound, instead of the old method of “stripping” which can be very painful, requires a long recovery, and sometimes results in large visible scars on the legs.

We generally recommend treatments to take place in the colder seasons, when it is less likely to have the legs exposed to the UV light that can cause discoloration of the treated veins.

If you have spider or varicose veins and have questions regarding their treatment, please contact our office for a consultation. Birmingham Cosmetic Surgery offers comprehensive treatment of vein problems.

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