Spider veins, known in the medical community as telangiectasia, are small, dilated, discolored blood vessels that occur most commonly in the lower legs. However, they can also occur on the face and in other regions of the body. Today, our experts at Skin MD in Chicago, IL reveal how you can eliminate these frustrating disordered veins so you can restore your self-confidence. Let’s get started.
How You Can Get Rid of Spider Veins
Of all the methods for removing spider veins, sclerotherapy is the most popular. This safe, effective, pain-free treatment has been around since 1939 and was approved by the FDA for both safety and efficacy. During this type of spider vein removal treatment, a tiny needle injects a sclerosing solution into the affected veins. The sclerosant in the solution irritates the walls of the diseased veins until they collapse. Treatments take approximately 15 to 30 minutes.
One of the reasons this treatment is so time-efficient is that the injected solution includes a bit of lidocaine. Lidocaine is an injectable local anesthetic that numbs the local area so there is no pain or discomfort as the veins are irritated and collapse. The effects of this medication work within 90 seconds, so you will only feel a slight pressure as the first injection is made. After that, you won’t feel anything until 20 minutes after your session is complete.
How Long You Have to Wait to Get Results
Your veins will collapse in the 15 to 30 minutes it takes for the treatment to be completed. You will notice immediate relief from physical discomforts, such as burning, throbbing pain, or tingling. However, if the veins you wish to treat are in your legs, it may take a few days for such symptoms as tiredness or heaviness to dissipate. It can take anywhere from three to six months for smaller veins to disappear and three to four months for larger veins to disappear.
How Long the Results of Treatment Last
The results of sclerotherapy are permanent. Once a collapsed vein starves to death, a new vein cannot grow in its place. After only one session per area with telangiectasia, the disordered veins are collapsed fully. With that being said, you may need follow-up treatments in the future.
There are several potential causes of telangiectasia, ranging from unavoidable things, like your genetics and blunt-force trauma, to avoidable things that you can’t change immediately, like obesity and imbalanced hormones. If your disordered veins are caused by obesity, but you don’t lose weight after treatment, your obesity may cause more disordered veins in the future.
How to Prepare for Sclerotherapy
There are several steps you should take to prepare for sclerotherapy. One of the most important is to protect the targeted area from UV exposure for the four weeks leading up to the session. This means that you should wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a high enough sun protection factor to keep you safe. The minimum sun protection factor (SPF) required to protect your skin from the sun will depend on your skin’s pigmentation.
You should also stop taking all drugs and nutritional supplements that affect your blood’s ability to clot. We’ll give you a list of all drugs and supplements you should avoid when you come in for your initial consultation. If you’re taking any of these medications, call your primary care physician and ensure it’s safe for you to stop taking them and ask about alternatives you can take safely without affecting the viscosity of your blood.
How to Care for Yourself After Sclerotherapy
Post-treatment care steps will depend on where the treatment was performed. If you had telangiectasia removed from your lower legs, you should wear knee-high, prescription-strength compression socks. If telangiectasia were removed from your upper legs, prescription-strength compression stockings are advisable. If telangiectasia were removed from your face, a facial compression garment will not be necessary.
Take acetaminophen if you feel any discomfort after your treatment session. Most analgesics, like ibuprofen, are NSAIDs. NSAIDs affect your blood’s ability to clot and should be avoided for the first 48 hours after treatment.
What to Avoid After Sclerotherapy
For the first month following your sclerotherapy session, avoid unprotected UV exposure. Whether you have telangiectasia removed from your face, hands, legs, or another part of your body, you should apply adequate sunscreen every four hours. Even clothes that are marketed as sun-protective (these clothes have a UPF, or UV-protection factor, number on the tag) do not provide adequate protection. You can still get a sunburn if you don’t wear sunscreen.
For the first seven days following your treatment session, avoid anything that could elevate your blood pressure to an unsafe level. For example, you should not consume over 200 mg of caffeine. You should also not participate in team sports or engage in vigorous exercise that can increase your pulse and blood pressure.
Good Candidates for Sclerotherapy
Virtually any healthy adult is considered a good candidate for sclerotherapy. The sclerosing solution contains a sclerosing agent that has been thoroughly tested for safety and a bit of lidocaine. As long as you’re not allergic to lidocaine, are healthy enough to receive lidocaine and have no qualms about needles, there is a very good chance that you will be considered a good candidate for this spider vein removal treatment.
Excel V Laser
If the thought of needles makes you uncomfortable, you may be a better candidate for the removal of spider veins with the excel V laser. This laser was specifically designed to target the pigments that cause the discoloration in the affected veins, leaving the healthy veins in the treatment area untouched.
As the laser emits light, the targeted, disordered veins absorb the energy creating the light. As the veins absorb light energy, they break down. The treatment can take anywhere from 15 to 60 minutes depending on how many areas need to be treated, how many spider veins are in the area, whether you need a topical anesthetic that needs time to start working, and other factors.
How Many Treatments You Will Need to Achieve Your Desired Results
You may need anywhere from three to five treatment sessions to eliminate telangiectasia completely; these treatments should be spaced somewhere between four and six weeks apart. The lasers can eliminate small veins completely in one session, but larger veins will require follow-up sessions. If you are only targeting a few small, disordered veins in an area, you may only need one treatment, and you can see the final results in roughly two to six weeks.
How to Prepare for Spider Vein Removal With This Device
Preparing for spider vein removal with the excel V laser is similar to preparing for spider vein removal with a sclerosant. For example, you need to keep the targeted area free from damaging UV exposure. This includes both wearing sunscreen and avoiding tanning beds until after your post-treatment “recovery” period. You should also stop using any oral or topical drugs that increase photosensitivity, including prescription and most over-the-counter acne treatments.
Furthermore, you should avoid any cosmetic treatments that can increase photosensitivity, such as chemical peels. To further mitigate your risk of skin sensitivity during this laser spider vein removal treatment, shave the targeted area, if applicable, and moisturize afterward. This should be done 24 hours before your treatment. If you can’t shave 24 hours before your scheduled appointment, shave earlier. Do not shave within 24 hours of your scheduled session.
What to Expect During the Recovery Period
During your recovery period, you can mostly go about your daily routine. Once the topical anesthetic wears off, you can expect the skin around the treatment area to feel warm, so you may want to apply a cold pack to the region gently to cool it off. However, you should not apply ice directly to the skin. If you have an ice pack, wrap it in a thin towel before applying it to the treatment area.
You should expect to feel perfectly fine after your laser spider vein removal session, but you should not engage in aerobic or anaerobic exercise in the first five days following your session. You should also avoid exposing yourself to high temperatures, such as steam rooms, saunas, hot showers, and hot baths. If your face was treated, avoid eating steaming-hot food for the first five days after your session.
How to Care for Your Skin During the Recovery Period
You are free to apply your favorite cosmetics to the treatment area as soon as your session is over. For example, if you sought treatment to remove telangiectasia from your face, you are free to put on foundation before going back to work. As another example, you may apply your favorite lotion to your legs as soon as your session is over.
To further care for your skin after treatment, avoid taking a hot bath or shower for at least the first 48 hours following your session. However, we recommend avoiding heat for the first four or five days. You may use tepid water to bathe or shower as your skin may be sensitive to cold water. Furthermore, you should avoid exfoliating the treated area for the first 10 days following your session.
Good Candidates for Spider Vein Removal With This Device
During your initial consultation, we will discuss your medical history and assess your current health to determine if you are a good candidate for treatment with this device. Most people are good candidates for this type of spider vein removal because laser technology has advanced so much in recent decades.
In the past, people with dark skin were considered poor candidates because the lasers were less capable of honing in on the appropriate pigments for treatment. Today, skin tone does not affect whether someone is a good candidate for laser spider vein removal and there is no risk of skin bleaching. However, people with photosensitivity, or who are taking drugs that increase photosensitivity, are poor candidates for this type of treatment.
Discover the Appropriate Spider Vein Removal Method for You Now
You don’t have to live with spider veins. Spider vein removal with sclerotherapy or the excel V laser can restore your self-confidence, so you can worry about more important things than whether your makeup is hiding the discolored veins. To discover which treatment method is appropriate for you, please contact our experts at Skin MD in Chicago, IL to schedule your initial consultation.