Skip to content

Skin Problems & Treatments Health Center

Spider Veins and Varicose Veins

Font Size
A
A
A

What procedures are available to treat varicose and spider veins?

Varicose veins are frequently treated by eliminating the "bad" veins. This forces the blood to flow through the remaining healthy veins. Various methods can be used to eliminate the problem veins, including, most commonly, surgery or sclerotherapy. Less commonly, laser or electro-cautery treatments have been used to treat the smallest spider veins, especially on the face. Surgery to treat varicose veins, commonly referred to as "stripping," is usually done under local or partial anesthesia, such as an "epidural."

Here, the problematic veins are "stripped" out by passing a flexible device through the vein and removing it through an incision near the groin. Smaller tributaries of these veins also are stripped with this device or removed through a series of small incisions. Those veins that connect to the deeper veins are then tied off. This stripping method has been used since the 1950's.

Spider veins cannot be removed through surgery. Sometimes, they disappear when the larger varicose veins feeding the spider veins are removed. Remaining spider veins also can be treated with "sclerotherapy." Sclerotherapy uses a fine needle to inject a solution directly into the vein. This solution irritates the lining of the vein, causing it to swell and the blood to clot. The vein turns into scar tissue that fades from view. Some doctors treat both varicose and spider veins with sclerotherapy. Today, the substances most commonly used in the U.S. are hypertonic saline or Sotradecol (sodium tetradecyl sulfate). Polidocanol (aethoxyskerol) is undergoing FDA testing but has not yet been approved in the U.S. for sclerotherapy.

During sclerotherapy, after the solution is injected, the vein's surrounding tissue is generally wrapped in compression bandages for several days, causing the vein walls to stick together. Patients whose legs have been treated are put on walking regimens, which forces the blood to flow into other veins and prevents blood clots. This method and variations of it have been used since the 1920's. In most cases, more than one treatment session will be required.

Today on WebMD

chafing
Pictures and symptoms of the red, scaly rash.
woman with dyed dark hair
What it says about your health.
 
woman with cleaning products
Top causes of the itch that rashes.
atopic dermatitus
Identify and treat common skin problems.
 
itchy skin
Article
shingles rash on skin
Article
 
woman with skin tag
Quiz
Woman washing face
Video
 

Itching for Relief?

Get Help With the

Loading ...

Sending your email...

This feature is temporarily unavailable. Please try again later.

Thanks!

Now check your email account on your mobile phone to download your new app.

woman washing her hair in sink
Video
close up of womans bare neck
Tools
 
Feet
Slideshow
woman with face cream
Quiz