Are you one of the many people who look down at their legs to see a web of spider veins starting to appear? Don’t worry. You’re not alone, and there are things you can do to help reduce the appearance of both spider veins and varicose veins. For those lucky (or young) enough not to have any yet, there are also some things you can do to prevent them, or at least hold them off for a while. Despite the fact that they are both hereditary and linked to various lifestyle choices, they can, to a certain extent, be controlled.
Here’s a rundown of possible causes, beyond genetics:
- your occupation (i.e. if you spend a lot of time standing up, this won’t help)
- hormones (especially during pregnancy, puberty and menopause)
- some medication, such as birth control pills
- anything that causes increased pressure in the abdomen, including clothing!
To this list, we can also add obesity and exposure to ultraviolet rays, otherwise known as sunbathing. So, clearly, there’s going to be a prevention message linked to your lifestyle — eat well, exercise, be careful about exposure to sunlight, and don’t wear excessively tight clothing for long periods, especially if you are standing up.
Other medical advice includes:
- keeping legs raised when sitting down or sleeping
- keep active (i.e. break standing/sitting cycles with walking around)
- avoid wearing high heels for long periods, and wear flats to help tone muscles
Of course, for most women (and the vast majority of sufferers are women) spider and varicose veins will eventually catch up with them as part of the aging process. Luckily, medical science has come up with some ways of dealing with them.
Medical Spider Vein Treatments
Firstly, to avoid surgery, medical practitioners advise wearing compression stockings in some cases. This is an option to be discussed with your own medical practitioner, but it can be instrumental in preventing blood from pooling and causing swelling in the legs. If surgery is deemed necessary, then you can have the veins either removed or closed. There are several options, ranging from using a liquid chemical to close off the veins (a treatment called sclerotherapy) to various options for cutting open the area near the vein and physically removing it. Cosmetic surgeons, however, also have a variety of non-invasive treatments that can be used in cases where the veins are not yet so severe that surgery is the only option. These treatments use lasers and can be used to treat the type of spider vein also known as a thread vein.
Spider Vein Treatments and Cosmetic Surgery
The laser therapy used by cosmetic surgeons is a simple one, using pulses of light to the vein, causing the blood inside to coagulate, disrupting the vessel and causing the blood to escape and be reabsorbed by the body. The treatment areas include the face and body. Each session can be conducted in an office setting and takes around 30 minutes to complete, making it a perfect lunchtime therapy. The resulting discomfort is minimal. Several treatments are usually required to have the desired effect, and the fading of the veins is a gradual process, so clients won’t see an immediate effect after the first treatment. Also, there are some specific guidelines to respect regarding exposure to sunlight and a reduction in strenuous exercise for the first week following treatment. So, if you’ve started to notice a latticework of thread veins for the first time, or feel that you would benefit from a reduction in their appearance, ask your local cosmetic surgeon about spider vein treatments and laser vein therapy. You may well be pleasantly surprised!