In case you are not aware of what varicose veins are, they are easy to identify and easy to describe. They are large veins that seem to be trying to push their way out of the legs. They can be seen in other places, but the legs are the most common. When viewing them they can appear to be blue or even darker and purple. They appear to be lumpy and are not straight as veins are supposed to be. All can be treated and spider vein treatment will not take long.
There will be the need for some varicose vein treatment as they very rarely improve on their own. The only time that this could happen is when they appear as part of pregnancy. Once the child is born, often the veins go back to the way that they were. Spider veins often appear on the face and these get their name from their appearance – they look like a spiders’ web. As they are quite small, spider vein treatment may not be as involved as other forms of varicose vein treatment.
It is very likely that there will be a number of symptoms noticed once the veins have started to appear and spider vein treatment is needed. They will include: –
- Aching legs. It can be difficult to walk or to sleep as they will feel heavy. This will end when varicose vein treatment has taken place.
- Feet and ankles that are swollen. Often the blood that cannot get back up to the heart settles near to the ankles.
- Cramps will be an issue as will a burning sensation. Night time will be the worst and it will be hard to sleep.
- The skin will seem to become thinner as well as itchy and dry after spider vein treatment.
Summertime can be the worst as the symptoms seem to increase as the weather gets warmer. Staying in the one position for a long time can also increase the symptoms as can being on your feet for too long. If there is little or no improvement when the legs are raised, then it will be time to make an appointment with the doctor. Although they are not dangerous, they will be easier to deal with when you have medical intervention.
Visiting the Doctor
The time to make an appointment is when the veins are beginning to have a detrimental effect on your life. When there is pain and irritation it will have to be dealt with. It will be easy for the vascular specialist to diagnose the fact that you have varicose veins but will take a little while to work out what to do about them. Varicose vein treatment has to be targeted at the particular type of vein. Spider vein treatment is a little easier as there are fewer different types of this vein
It is likely that the first form of spider vein treatment will be fairly basic and will be compression stocking along with details of how to prevent the veins getting worse. This will include things such as losing weight, trying to raise the legs as much as possible, exercising and it could be that this is all that is suggested for the first 6 months.
If there is no discernible improvement the leg veins doctor will then look at the next phase. There will be more of an examination at this stage, as there will be a number of options including surgery although as usual this will be the last option. The types of spider vein treatment to be offered will be: –
- Endothermal ablation – Here there is heat introduced to the veins and when it touches the walls the veins are sealed.
- Sclerotherapy – Foam is injected into the veins and this causes them to collapse and prevent blood from entering them.
- Ligation and stripping – This is a more detailed procedure as the veins are going to be removed. It is an invasive procedure, but one that should not cause too much of a problem.
Most of the time this will be classed as a cosmetic procedure, so it is unlikely that there will be any funding contributed from your insurance company. There are some occasions when they are classed as a medical problem and the costs will be provided then. It is likely that the doctor will have to write on your behalf and explain why it is surgical not cosmetic.
Types of Varicose Veins
Before the spider vein treatment can start, the doctor will have to decide what type of varicose veins you have. There are a few different ones, and this can determine the sort of treatment to be given.
- Trunk veins – These will be the ones that look the worst even if they do not feel it. They are thick and close to the surface of the skin meaning they are most noticeable.
- Reticular veins –These appear to be linked together and seem to be very red.
- Telangiectasia – Another name for these veins is spider veins. They appear to be red or blue and are the ones that can appear on the face as well as the legs. They will not show through the skin and if they can be covered with make up, there will be no need to have them treated as they are normally harmless.
Varicose Vein Treatment
There are several results that the vein doctor can be aiming for. The main one will be to prevent pain and allow you to lead a more fun filled life. They will also be aware that you are at risk from conditions such as leg ulcers and the swelling that varicose veins can bring. They will be aware that you want to look better and will do all that they can to help you here, but there is the chance that you are going to have to pay if the insurance company decides you do not need but just want the treatment. You could be told that you need to try some basic treatment for up to 6 months and see if you still feel that further treatment is needed. You could end up: –
- Wearing compression stockings although there will be tests carried out to see of this is safe for you to do. Poor circulation may make it something that the vascular doctor will consider is best avoided.
- Regular exercise. Do not go too far with this as it may mean you need additional varicose vein treatment.
- Avoid standing too long. This is going to be an issue for everyone but anyone who is overweight or has a job that requires them to stand for long periods of time will be more at risk.
- If you get the chance, raise your legs whenever you can. This could be when sitting on a settee or lying in bed. Pillows or cushions could be used to help.
If the compression stockings do not work, then you will have to look at other forms of varicose vein treatment. An examination by a vascular specialist should allow them to decide what that will be.
This is normally the first thing that is tried as it is known to be able to deal with the veins without too much trouble. Energy will be pumped into the veins either because of high frequency radio waves or lasers that will act to seal the veins. This does not mean that blood is stuck in the legs as it will find other ways to move around the body and utilise other veins.
Here there is radiofrequency energy used to heat up the walls of the veins. With this form of varicose vein treatment, there is a small cut made in the area around the knee. A small catheter is placed inside the vein thanks to an ultrasound scan. The probe then enters this catheter and heats up the vein. The walls then collapse and are sealed shut. Again, the blood will find another vein and go back towards the heart. There is nothing to worry about radiofrequency ablation as you can be awake while this happens if you want to be.
Endovenous Lasers for Varicose Vein Treatment
Again, a catheter is put into the vein and guided via ultrasound. Short shots of energy reach the vein and the heat closes it. The entire length of the vein is closed so that blood cannot get in and not be able to get back out. General or local anaesthetic can be used for endovenous laser ablation therapy. Here there could be some side effects including bruises, pain tightness and temporary nerve damage.
If ablation is not recommended in your case, you will undergo sclerotherapy. Foam will be inserted into the legs and scars will appear in the veins before they close. Deep vein thrombosis customers will not be suitable for this. Ultrasound takes the foam to where it is needed and with this treatment a number of veins can be treated at once.
Pain killing medicine will be provided for these sessions and they can be carried out using local anaesthetic. It should only take a couple of weeks for the veins to disappear and the remaining veins take over their role. A few sessions may be needed and there is the risk of a re-occurrence.
This varicose vein treatment has not been used long enough for there to be data on how effective it is in the long term. Records show it is above 80% but also there is a high return rate. There are a few side effects including:
- Blood clots
- Pain in the lower back
- Fainting and for some time problems with eyesight.
- There have been some cases where strokes have been suffered but they are few and far between.
A major plus to this treatment is that there is no reason to take time off work and it is possible to walk right away albeit with compression stockings.
If all else fails, there will be surgery and a vascular expert called Dr.Faisal Siddiqi could be all you need. This is in the form of ligation where the veins are stripped out of the legs. General anaesthetic is used so you will be knocked out for the procedure and not able to see what is being done. At most there will be the need to stay in hospital for a night but more often than not you can go home the same day. This is normally when both legs are being treated at the same time.
It is likely that you will want some details before surgery. You can ask questions such as: –
- Is this normal for spider vein treatment and varicose vein treatment?
- How long before I can have the treatment and who is the doctor going to be?
- How many times will I need this spider vein treatment?
When asking for details of what will happen during varicose vein surgery, you should be told that the vein is going to be closed and then taken out. Two cuts will be made – one in the groin and one in the other will be close to the knee. It is the top part that is sealed. A wire goes through the vein and is taken out through the lower cut. This may be a drastic form of spider vein treatment but is vital for varicose vein treatment. As with other vein treatments, there are veins that will take over the blood flow. As this is a more serious varicose vein treatment a few weeks holiday may be needed afterwards. There is one more procedure, although this will not be used for spider vein treatment.
Trans Illuminated Powered Phlebectomy
This may be tried, although it is not a well tried varicose vein treatment. A couple of cuts are made, and a light source identifies the veins to cut. Once cut they are sucked out. There could be some bruising afterwards and often bleeding but if you have concerns that it goes on too long, contact the doctor.