By Dr. Samuel P. Martin
Many women suffer from unsightly spider veins and varicose veins. Not only are these veins an eyesore, they can also cause irritation and pain. Fortunately, with today’s modern treatments, you no longer have to undergo painful surgeries or endure ineffective sclerotherapy to treat these leg issues.
What Are Spider Veins and Varicose Veins SPIDER VEINS are small, superficial blood vessels in the skin and are often a sign of underlying problems. They get their name because their appearance is similar to spider webs.
Many factors, including heredity, hormones, pregnancy, weight gain, and prolonged standing or sitting, contribute to the development and reoccurrence of leg spider veins. They most commonly appear as red, blue or purple spider weblike patterns on the inner and outer thighs, calves, back of the knees and the ankle area. The most widely used treatment is an injection of a liquid or foamed sclerosant. A surface laser can also be used.
The term VARICOSE VEIN refers to veins that are enlarged with leaky valves. People usually think of them as the big, bulging, rope-like veins in the leg. Varicose veins occur because the one-way valves in the veins leak, allowing blood to flow backwards in the vein. The reverse flow of blood distends the vein below, eventually causing valves below to leak and branch veins to dilate and become varicose.
Treating Varicose Veins
Straight veins are treated with laser therapy. This minimally invasive procedure is performed on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia. Patients do not experience the discomfort, pain, and scarring associated with vein stripping, the traditional method of treating varicose veins. Curvy, tortuous veins are treated with chemical ablation, another in-office procedure using a foamed sclerosant injected into the diseased veins. This solution causes problem veins to fibrose and seal shut. Over time, they become invisible.
These procedures are important because they can be performed without scars and with little downtime. This is particularly important for women and men who can’t take time off work or interrupt their busy schedules. These procedures allow you to continue your normal activities soon after the procedure. This has been a real boon not only to physicians who treat veins, but also to women and men who are struggling with their veins but cannot find them time for treatment. Treating spider and varicose veins is no longer a threatening process.
Leg health is significantly enhanced by wearing graduated compression stockings, hose, or leggings especially for those who are on their feet much of the day.
The Importance of Compression Stockings
To help achieve good leg health, physicians will often recommend women wear compression stockings throughout the day. Compression stockings gently squeeze your legs, helping veins and muscles move blood more efficiently. Thirty percent of women will develop varicose veins in their first pregnancy. With subsequent pregnancies, that figure rises to more than 50 percent.
Compression stockings today come in a variety of stylish designs and colors. Unlike older options, nobody has to know you’re wearing compression stockings. They can be tailored to your exact needs, including performance compression for running or exercise, and leggings for leisure wear with sandals and short skirts.
Vein health equates to leg health. About half of women over the age of 50 suffer from vein problems. That’s why it’s important to use compression therapy as early as possible to prevent vein issues from worsening or developing in the first place. If possible, try wearing compression at times when people don’t see your legs - so when they do see your legs, they will look their best.