What is Sclerotherapy?
Sclerotherapy is the gold standard treatment for unsightly spider veins of the legs. It is a minimally invasive, gentle procedure that carefully introduces a special solution known as a sclerosant into unwanted small blood vessels. The inner wall of those blood vessels known as the endothelial lining is intentionally compromised so that the diseased veins harden and eventually shrink. Over time, they fade from view.
Sclerotherapy is a simple outpatient procedure that takes less than an hour to perform. Most patients observe significant improvement with each treatment, though multiple treatments are usually necessary for optimal clearance. Since the sclerosant is superficially injected into feeder veins with a very tiny needle, there is minimal skin trauma.
Certain types of lasers, such as the Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet), aim to selectively target the oxyhemoglobin component of blood in spider veins, but must be externally applied to the skin at closely spaced intervals along length of the spider veins. This can cause localized swelling, redness, irritation and pain. They can be used as a compliment to sclerotherapy.
Leg spider veins are very prevalent in the U.S., especially among women. The small spider veins known as telangiectasias are thought to result from reflux from superficial or deep veins.* Predisposing factors include heredity, hormonal changes (e.g., pregnancy), increased weight, prolonged standing, and other underlying congenital or acquired causes.
Depending on their presentation and underlying cause(s), spider veins on the face can be treated with medication, pulsed-dye lasers or intense pulsed light sources (IPLS).
* Dermatol Surg. 2005 Apr,31(4):388-90.