Better Me

Treating Visible Leg Veins

As temperatures start to rise across the country, people will trade in their pants, sweaters, and boots for shorts, tank tops, and flip-flops. But for some, the thought of wearing shorts and exposing their legs to the world may cause undue stress and anxiety.

If visible veins are cramping your style, have no fear. Todd Bruce, PA-C, a Banner Health cardiac, thoracic and vascular surgery specialist at the CardioVascular Institute of North Colorado Vein Clinic, shared these facts about visible veins and the best ways to get rid of them so you can confidently bare your legs this year.

You’re so vein

Having visible veins can wreak havoc on your self-confidence. There are two different types of veins that might spark concerns: spider and varicose veins.

“Spider veins appear as small, web-like lines just below the surface of your skin,” Bruce said. “They are mainly genetic (thanks, mom and dad!) and can’t be prevented.”

On the other hand, or leg, varicose veins are larger, dilated and twisted-looking veins that are deeper in the body. “They tend to have a genetic component but can also be caused by pregnancy, injury and prolonged standing,” Bruce said.

Women are more likely to get varicose veins than men, and some other factors can predispose someone to these veins, including obesity or a history of blood clots.

Get those veins in check

While you may think covering your legs with self-tanner or ointments may help reduce the appearance of your veins, that’s not going to solve your problem. Before going out and grabbing yourself the laser treatment, schedule a consultation with a vascular specialist. They can help determine the best treatment option for you.

“While spider veins shouldn’t be any cause for a health concern, varicose veins could be an underlying sign of a medical problem. Varicose veins with underlying venous insufficiency, if left untreated, could cause leg swelling, which in turn can cause venous ulcerations and lead to other serious health conditions,” Bruce said. “Banner Health offers a free screening to help educate patients on their options.”

Visible vein treatment options

Depending on whether you require cosmetic or medical intervention, there are several treatment options available today to treat varicose and spider veins. Here are a few of the most common:

Sclerotherapy: This is one of the most popular options for spider veins and small varicose veins. Doctors use a painless foamy detergent or saline injection treatment to collapse the troubled vein or veins so they can be reabsorbed into the bloodstream. It can take roughly one to two months for spider veins to disappear and three to four months for varicose veins.

Surface laser treatments: Using a surface laser or intense pulsed light treatment, specialists heat the vein causing it to contract and scar over. If needles aren’t your thing, this may be a good option, but it may take several treatments to see an improvement.

Endovenous laser ablation: Endovenous laser therapy (EVLT) and radiofrequency ablation (RFA) both work to heat the vein and collapse it. EVLT uses a laser fiber, while RFA uses a catheter and is used to treat venous insufficiency. With both procedures, people see results in as little as a few weeks.

Surgery: There are a couple of surgical options, but these are best used to treat large varicose veins. Surgical techniques include ligation (tying off the vein) or ambulatory phlebectomy or vein “stripping” where the vein is completely removed. The main advantage of these more invasive procedures is that they are permanent, but like any surgical procedure, they come with some risks too.

At-Home changes

While you can’t get rid of the visible veins you already have, there are a few things you can do at home to prevent new veins from sprouting:

  • Compression stockings: Have your doctor examine you so you can get properly size for compression socks. These stockings help move blood back to heart, therefore reducing swelling in your legs and the symptoms of venous insufficiency.
  • Regular exercise
  • Don’t stand or sit for long periods
  • Elevate your legs

If you are considering a varicose or spider vein treatment, make sure you consult with a vascular specialist first before electing for a treatment option on your own. For a free, no-hassle evaluation, schedule an appointment with a Banner Health expert.

To learn more about your vascular health take our free Symptoms Profiler Health Risk Assessment.

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