dreamstime_xxl_64981774Many people, 30-60% of adults, have varicose or spider veins, but few people like them. And you can see why!

What Are Varicose Veins? varicose-veins

Blood vessels (aka veins) bring deoxygenated blood from the outer body parts to the heart and lungs. When the veins become thick, enlarged, and have twists and turns, they are called varicose veins. Varicose veins can form anywhere in the body, but most often occur in the legs and thighs.

Spider veins are smaller vessels that are red, purple, and/or blue. They also twist and turn, and usually visible on the legs and face. They are generally closer to the skin than varicose veins.

What Causes Varicose Veins?

The general consensus is that varicose veins are caused by weak vein walls and defective valves within the veins which make the blood flow away from the heart instead of towards it. This defect may be inherited, and can be aggravated by:

  • Pregnancy
  • Prolonged standing
  • Obesity
  • Chronic constipation
  • Prior trauma or surgery
  • Age

Spider veins are caused by increased pressure in the veins. Doctors aren’t sure why some people develop spider veins and others do not. However, they do have a hereditary connection, and are more likely to occur with age.

What Symptoms Are There?

There are several common symptoms that may occur besides the appearance of varicose or spider veins:

  • Leg cramping
  • Feeling tired or restless
  • Burning, throbbing, and/or tingling in the legs

Treatment Options

Many people don’t realize how easy it can be to get rid of those unsightly varicose and spider veins. Thanks to technology, surgery is rarely required. Today, treatments are outpatient, and many don’t even require anesthesia. The most effective treatment options include:

  • Sclerotherapy which uses a highly concentrated saline solution that is injected directly into the vein. Treatment generally takes 15-30 minutes depending on the number of veins treated. The solution replaces blood in the vein which creates an irritation to the walls of the blood vessel. This then initiates the natural healing process which makes the veins decompose, shrink, and eventually disappear. On average, patients need more than one treatment, with some requiring up to 6 treatments to fully dissipate the spider veins. This is a cosmetic treatment not generally covered by insurance.
  • Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLT) is a minimally invasive procedure that uses a small laser fiber that is inserted into the vein. The fiber emits pulses of laser light which makes the vein collapse. Treatment takes about 1 hour and provides immediate relief. Insurance may cover this procedure.

Varicose vein treatments start with a consult, then require an ultrasound for diagnosis, and once the diagnosis is complete the EVLT can be done. This process ensures the highest quality treatment for each individual varicose vein condition.

With treatments that are so simple, there is no reason to have unsightly legs. Select the option you prefer and then check with your insurance company to see if they will cover the procedure. Generally, insurance companies cover treatment for varicose veins, but not spider veins, but don’t let that stop you. The cost for spider vein treatments can be very affordable!

Linda Quinn, MD is an award-winning physician who integrates physical, nutritional, emotional, and spiritual health to create a balanced program of healing and anti-aging. Through her practice, she provides varicose and spider vein treatments.