Varicose Veins & Spider Veins: What are they? How can they be treated?

Veins of the body are respon­si­ble for car­ry­ing blood from the var­i­ous parts of the body to the heart. As peo­ple age, prob­lems can devel­op in the veins and can cause a vari­ety of dis­eases. Approx­i­mate­ly one third of men and women have vari­cose veins with vary­ing presentations.

Vari­cose veins been con­sid­ered a cos­met­ic con­cern for a long time; how­ev­er, vari­cose veins can fre­quent­ly be the cause of dis­com­fort, pain, and decreased qual­i­ty of life. Treat­ment can range from obser­va­tion to a min­i­mal­ly inva­sive in-office pro­ce­dure or surgery.

Vari­cose veins are dilat­ed, elon­gat­ed, and twist­ed blood ves­sels that don’t con­trol blood flow as they should. Size can vary from the thread-like spi­der veins to bulging vari­cose veins. Spi­der veins can be red or blue and do not pro­trude above the skin sur­face. Spi­der veins do not pose a med­ical risk, but can be treat­ed for cos­met­ic rea­sons. Vari­cose veins bulge past the skin sur­face. They look like rope, cords or grape like clus­ters any­where on the thigh or calf.

Vari­cose veins are caused by weak­ness or dam­age to valves in the veins. Blood in the legs must trav­el against grav­i­ty to return to the heart. The move­ment of blood back to the heart is assist­ed by one way valves in the veins. When the valves work, they stop blood from flow­ing back­wards. When the valves don’t work, blood flows in both direc­tions which is referred to as reflux. Reflux can cause the veins to enlarge, lose form and pro­trude from beneath the skin.

Vari­cose veins can be present and not cause prob­lems, but can also be present with prob­lems. These prob­lems can be vague such as aching, fatigue, or heav­i­ness in the legs or spe­cif­ic such as throb­bing pain or itch­ing near vari­cose veins and swelling in legs.


While con­ser­v­a­tive mea­sures such as ele­va­tion when at rest and reg­u­lar exer­cise may help peo­ple with mild symp­toms, peo­ple with sig­nif­i­cant symp­toms may need to seek treatment.Treatments vary from patient to patient.

  • Com­pres­sion Ther­a­py — Com­pres­sion ther­a­py is the least inva­sive treat­ment to sup­port veins. Socks are worn typ­i­cal­ly through­out the entire day. The com­pres­sion stock­ings sup­port the veins by pre­vent­ing the pool­ing of blood in the veins.
  • Endove­nous Laser Treat­ment — Some­times referred to as Laser Treat­ment. This is a pro­ce­dure per­formed in the office. A laser fiber is direct­ly insert­ed into the vein under local anes­the­sia. When the laser is acti­vat­ed, the ener­gy caus­es the vein wall to col­lapse. Blood that would pool in this vein is redi­rect­ed to nor­mal veins.
  • Phle­bec­to­my — Some­times called Microphle­bec­to­my or Ambu­la­to­ry Phle­bec­to­my. Ropey, bulging vari­cose veins are removed through a series of small inci­sions. This pro­ce­dure can be done in the office or the oper­at­ing room.
  • Scle­rother­a­py — A med­ica­tion is direct­ly inject­ed into the vein. The med­ica­tion irri­tates the lin­ing of the vein caus­ing it to scar and col­lapse. This works best on small vari­cose veins and spi­der veins. Sev­er­al ses­sions are typ­i­cal­ly needed. 

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