What are spider veins?

Spider veins are small, dilated blood vessels (less than 1 millimeter in diameter) near the surface of the skin. Spider veins most commonly occur on the face, legs, and chest. These dilated blood vessels may look like short, fine lines, “starburst” clusters, or a web-like maze. Spider veins can be red, blue, or purple in color and are often twisting similarly to varicose veins. The medical term for spider veins is telangiectasias.
Treatment Options

Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment for both spider veins and varicose veins. The doctor uses a needle to inject a liquid chemical into the vein. The chemical causes the vein walls to swell, stick together, and seal shut. This stops the flow of blood, and the vein turns into scar tissue. In a few weeks, the vein should fade. This treatment does not require anesthesia and is done in your doctor’s office. You can return to normal activity right after treatment.

The same vein may need to be treated more than once. Treatments are usually done every 4 to 6 weeks. You will have to wear gradient compression stockings after sclerotherapy to help with healing and decrease swelling. This treatment is very effective when done correctly.

Ultrasound Guided Sclerotherapy

There is a type of sclerotherapy called ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy (or echo-sclerotherapy). This type of sclerotherapy uses ultrasound imaging to guide the needle. It can be useful in treating veins that cannot be seen on the skin’s surface. It may be used after surgery or endovenous techniques if the varicose veins return. This procedure is done in your doctor’s office. Possible side effects include skin sores, swelling, injection into an artery by mistake, or deep vein thrombosis (a potentially dangerous blood clot).

Effects

Possible side effects include:

  • Stinging, red and raised patches of skin, or bruises where the injection was made. These usually go away shortly after treatment.
  • Spots, brown lines, or groups of fine red blood vessels around the treated vein. These also usually go away shortly after treatment.
  •  Lumps of blood that get trapped in vein and cause inflammation. This is not dangerous. You can relieve swelling by applying heat and taking aspirin. Your doctor can drain the trapped blood with a small pinprick at a follow-up visit.