With the enriching and reinvigorating light of summer hitting our skin and our souls, it’s time for us to swap the winter coats for shorts and tank tops, and bask in the literal glow of this magical time of the year. Volleyball on the beach, cocktails on the patio, maybe even a cheeky summer fling by the lake; it’s the time of the year that we all cannot wait for.
Summer is when we all not only want to look our best, but also feel our best. Of course there isn’t a single, perfect way to look or feel your best summer-self, but a plethora of unique and amazing ways that makes you, as an individual, feel happy and like you’re living your best life. While this means many different things to many different people, there are some common things that people do feel uncomfortable with when summer comes along; Spider Veins being one of these things. Spider veins are small, thin lines that may be flat or raised, often blue, red or purple. They are completely natural, and while some people may not be bothered by their own Spider Veins, it is equally important to acknowledge that some people do feel insecure about these.
Sometimes just treating one specific condition that makes us feel self-conscious can greatly benefit how we feel about ourselves, and our body. Sometimes it is something that we come to accept in our own time. All experiences are valid, and the two primary things that all people should be provided with when it comes to treating these conditions are respect, and choice. So let’s take the time to not only discuss the treatment for Spider Vein, but also understand what Spider Veins actually are, and just how common they can be.
Spider Veins, also known as talangiectasias, most commonly occur on the legs, are caused by damaged veins, and research suggests that they effect over 40% of all women. The veins that carry blood back to the heart contain a one-way valve that closes once blood has passed through it, ensuring that blood doesn’t flow backwards. If this one-way valve weakens or becomes damaged, which can happen simply by aging, it can result in blood pooling inside the vein, and over time this results in a bulge in the skin that branches out like a spider’s web; thus the name Spider Veins.
What causes Spider Veins can be a number of different contributing factors, such as pregnancy, hormones, sun exposure, lack of activity and (of course) genetics.
Pregnancy can place excess pressure on the abdominal area, which can result in additional pressure on the veins. This, combined with the increase of hormone levels, such as estrogen and progesterone, may cause veins to become more susceptible to stretching and weakening, and therefore may increase the appearance of spider veins.
Hormones, can be a contributing factor to Spider Veins, and are seen more commonly in women than men. This is because higher levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone contribute to a weakening of tissue, leading to Spider Veins. Testosterone tends to benefit soft tissue, contributing to delayed signs of aging in males as well as a lowered risk of spider veins.
Sun Exposure is another leading cause of Spider Veins on not just your legs, but also your cheeks and nose. This is why we cannot say the word “sunscreen” enough! UVA and UVB rays damage the skin, and lead to a breakdown of collagen and elastin. As skin tissue weakens and blood vessels dilate, spider veins emerge.
Inactivity of the legs are what causes Spider Veins, specifically in the calves (often referred to as the “heart” of the legs). When your body, and legs are active and moving, this lends a helping hand (or leg) to help pump blood to the heart. When you’re stationary for longer periods of time, your body has to do an Elphaba and Defy Gravity, without any help from your calves, to pump blood. Without activity, the valves in these veins weaken and may produce Spider Veins.
Genetics are the most common contributing factor, as 90% of those who experience Spider Veins will have a family history of them as well. As mentioned, this is a contributing factor, so if your family has a predisposition to Spider Veins, the above will exacerbate the potential development of this condition.
The important takeaway from this is that Spider Veins are common, and may just a genetic luck of the draw. They should be something that is more widely accepted as just part of aging, and part of a person’s body. On the other hand, Spider Veins can affect people in different ways, and some can be more prevalent than others. This is why having the option and choice to treat them is important, just like any other cosmetic procedure or treatment; it’s your body, it’s your choice.
Can you prevent Spider Veins?
There are a few tips and ticks to help prevent, or reduce the severity of Spider Vein accumulation. Wearing compression socks/garments during the day, especially if you are standing up, can help. They work by applying pressure to the legs, and will help give your veins a helping hand when pumping blood. Other small things you can do to help is to exercise regularly, not cross your legs, and to literally put your feet up at the end of a long day – these will all help aid in blood flow and put less pressure on the valves. While these are proven to help, as mentioned, factors such as pregnancy and genetics are sometimes unavoidable contributors, but these tips and trick may help by reducing the quantity and severity of Spider Vein appearance.
Can it be treated?
Yes, it can. The treatment for Spider Veins is known as Sclerotherapy, and variations of this treatment can actually be documented as far back as 1682! Modern-day Sclerotherapy has been researched and developed since the 1980s, and has evolved into a very safe, effective treatment that can see results in anywhere between 2 to 6 treatments.
Sclerotherapy is actually a very simple, easy to explain treatment. It involves the injection of a solution (generally a sugar/salt solution) directly into the Spider Vein. The solution then causes the blood vessel to collapse and stick together, and over time the vessel turns into scar tissue and will fade, resulting in the superficial Spider Vein vanishing.
Even though Sclerotherapy is a safe, proven procedure that has been in use for many years, it is important to have your treatment performed by a specialist who has vast experience with this procedure. Once the treatment has been performed, your recovery will be quite short and you can go about your day. We do suggest that you take it easy for a few days post-treatment, and wear compression garments for approximately a week.
Is it painful?
The treatment itself isn’t known as a painful treatment, as the needle used is extremely fine, as small as an eyelash in fact! Sclerotherapy is a very tolerable injectable treatment, if you are fine with most needle-based procedures, like Botox, fillers, IV therapy or even getting your blood drawn, you won’t have any issues. If needles do make you a little squeamish, that is where the expertise of our Senior Registered Nurse Injectors becomes invaluable. With over a decade of experience with injectables and Sclerotherapy, our specialists are very familiar with patients who have needle-phobias, and know just how to help make them feel relaxed and at-ease during treatment.
Is it permanent?
Yes, Sclerotherapy is permanent! After sufficient treatments have been performed on the specified areas, and the Spider Veins have dissipated, they are gone forever. It is however important to note that this will not prevent other damaged blood vessels on other parts of your body from producing Spider Veins.
What about Varicose Veins?
Varicose Veins are somewhat different from Spider Veins, and commonly occur in the leg. They typically present as dark purple or blue in colour, and may appear twisted and bulging. How they are caused is very similar to Spider Veins, but happen to veins that are deeper in your skin and are larger.
Sclerotherapy does not work on Varicose Veins, and there are no non-surgical treatments available. They may be removed surgically if they are bothersome, but it is always suggested to seek the advice of a family doctor before considering surgery. If the Varicose Veins are causing discomfort, pain or throbbing, it is also suggested that you see your family doctor as they may be an indicator of other, potentially more serious health conditions.
If the appearance of Spider Veins are something that causes you distress or discomfort, then there are options available to you to treat the superficial appearance. The best place to start is by just having a consultation with a specialist in Sclerotherapy. This is purely so you can gather all the information you need to move forward with confidence in any decision that you make. 8 West Cosmetic Surgery & Skin Clinic offers complimentary consultations for Sclerotherapy, with specialists who have over a decade of experience with Spider Veins, injectables, and this treatment specifically.
You can call 8 West Clinic on (604) 733-1669, or complete this form to receive a callback from our friendly and helpful staff.