Spider veins are the tiny red or blue vessels that can appear anywhere on the body, but more commonly on the legs, face, chest or even abdomen. They may be visible as short, seemingly unconnected lines each about the size of a large hair or they may resemble a spider web or tree with branches.
Spider veins are often referred to as "thread veins" or "broken capillaries". In medical terms, spider veins are called "telangiectasias".
In the past, inexperienced doctors would perform sclerotherapy to these spider veins directly without treating the underlying feeding vein - this lead to:
- the inevitable recurrence of the spider veins;
- persistent staining or discolouration of the skin;
- post treatment ulcers;
- matting (appearance of more and more spider veins).
Are Spider Veins Dangerous?
Generally speaking, the answer is no. However, if spider veins are a result of underlying venous disease, then the underlying condition causing the spider veins MUST be treated, as it could lead to further complications.
Although mostly harmless, they can cause distress as the sufferer often feels self-conscious, particularly if the veins are on an exposed part of the body, such as the legs.
What is the best treatment?
Sclerotherapy is considered the first choice method for the treatment of small reticular and spider veins.
A simple, well proven and effective treatment, sclerotherapy involves the injection of a sclerosant detergent solution through a tiny needle into the diseased vein. This causes the vein wall to collapse; these collapsed veins harden over the next few hours (a process referred to as "sclerosis" - hence the name "sclerotherapy"). Hardened veins undergo a gradual process of absorption and gradually disappear from the body over several months.
Most patients who are treated with sclerotherapy of their spider veins can expect excellent results within 3 months of treatment, but should not be disheartened if the healing process extends for a longer duration.