Varicose Veins and Spider Veins

  • Medical Author:
    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Gary W. Cole, MD, FAAD

    Dr. Cole is board certified in dermatology. He obtained his BA degree in bacteriology, his MA degree in microbiology, and his MD at the University of California, Los Angeles. He trained in dermatology at the University of Oregon, where he completed his residency.

  • Medical Author:
    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Siamak N. Nabili, MD, MPH

    Dr. Nabili received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), majoring in chemistry and biochemistry. He then completed his graduate degree at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). His graduate training included a specialized fellowship in public health where his research focused on environmental health and health-care delivery and management.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD

    Steven Doerr, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Emergency Medicine Physician. Dr. Doerr received his undergraduate degree in Spanish from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He graduated with his Medical Degree from the University Of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Denver, Colorado in 1998 and completed his residency training in Emergency Medicine from Denver Health Medical Center in Denver, Colorado in 2002, where he also served as Chief Resident.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

Spider and Varicose Veins Slideshow Pictures

What treatments are available for varicose veins and spider veins?

There are many different treatments available for varicose veins. These treatments vary based upon the size and location of the varicose veins, the presence of symptoms, and in cases of accompanying skin changes (for example, swelling, dermatitis or ulceration, for example). Briefly, potential treatments may include:

  • leg elevation while sitting or sleeping,
  • compression dressings with single or multilayered systems,
  • compression stockings,
  • sclerotherapy (injection of a liquid or foam into the vein to form a clot and permanently destroy the vessel),
  • ablation (destruction) of abnormal veins with techniques using laser, radiofrequency or other modalities
  • surgery (removal of the varicose veins, including "phlebectomy" or vein stripping).

In general, sclerotherapy and laser therapy are helpful in treating spider veins (telangiectasias), while ablation and surgery may be a better option for larger varicose veins.

Is treatment always necessary?

No, not if varicose and spider veins are primarily a cosmetic problem. But severe cases that do not respond to compression therapy, especially those associated with ulcers and dermatitis, generally require further treatment.

Thousands of people every year consider getting treatment for varicose veins and spider veins. Advertisements for treating venous disease often tout "unique," "permanent," "painless," or "absolutely safe" methods, thus making it difficult for individuals make a decision on the best treatment option. If you are uncertain about the safety or effectiveness of any treatment check with a health care professional.

Related SlideshowSpider And Varicose Veins

How can compression stockings help with varicose veins?

Compression stockings work simply by squeezing the leg, thereby reducing the amount of blood and pressure in the veins. There are various brands, styles, and colors of stockings available. The degree of pressure applied around the leg should be guided by a health care professional. Ideally, they should be fitted when the leg is not swollen, and they can be made-to-order for each patient. Older or obese individuals often have difficulty putting on the stockings, which must be worn when the patient is standing. These stockings typically lose some degree of the compression over time so they may need to be replaced regularly.Continue Reading

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 10/15/2014
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