Varicose Vein Treatments
It is estimated that nearly 50 percent of women and 40 percent of men in the United States develop varicose veins or spider veins. Aside from aesthetic concerns, varicose veins and spider veins can be associated with itching, burning, pain, fatigue, night cramps, and swelling of the lower extremities.
What Are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins form when a vein stops functioning properly, allowing blood to leak down away from the heart and lungs. Varicose veins are enlarged (greater than 4 mm in diameter), bulging veins that often look like twisted cords. They can be red, blue, or flesh colored and are often raised above the skin. Varicose veins are most often found on the thighs, inside of the leg, or calf area.
What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are similar to varicose veins but are smaller (less than 3 mm in diameter), closer to the surface of the skin, and are not painful. Since spider veins are so superficial and often red or blue in color, they are often extremely visible. Typically, spider veins look like spider webbing: a series of intertwined short and jagged lines. Spider veins of the lower extremities may cover a very large surface area of skin.
What Causes Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
There are a number of factors associated with both varicose and spider veins including:
- Prolonged sitting and standing
- Obesity and/or weight fluctuations
- Hormonal changes (pregnancy, menopause, and long-term use of birth control)
- Excessive sun exposure
- Lack of exercise
- Leg injuries
What Treatments are Available for Varicose Veins and Spider Veins?
Fortunately, there are several procedural options to treat spider veins and varicose veins of the lower extremities. Here at Westlake Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery we offer the following vein removal treatments:
- Sclerotherapy is a safe and effective treatment for removing spider veins or small varicose veins. In sclerotherapy, a sclerosing solution is injected into the vein, causing the vein to collapse and become no longer be visible.
- Ultrasound-Guided Sclerotherapy uses the standard process of sclerotherapy with the addition of ultrasound imaging. This enables a physician to find and treat veins that are not immediately visible, as they are below the surface of the skin. As with standard sclerotherapy, a sclerosing solution is delivered to the vein through injection causing the vein to be destroyed.
- Laser or intense pulsed light (IPL) devices can be used to remove small spider veins of the legs that cannot be addressed with sclerotherapy. Small veins of the face can also be treated in the same manner.
- Endovenous laser therapy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure performed completely under local anesthesia targeting abnormal, leaky veins inside of the thigh and leg that are often the root cause of varicose veins. Laser energy is delivered directly to those veins with the use of a small laser fiber, leading to their destruction.
- Micro-incision phlebectomy is a minimally invasive surgical procedure that completely removes larger (raised) varicose veins in a single treatment with virtually no scarring and minimal post-procedure discomfort.
Will My Insurance Cover Vein Removal Treatments?
Treatments for varicose veins that are associated with lower extremity swelling, itching, pain, or ulcers are covered by some insurance plans. After consulting to determine which treatment is best suited for you, we recommend that you check with your insurance company to confirm whether the treatment will be covered by your individual plan.