It’s summer and you’re excited to wear your favorite dress to a party tonight. As you walk towards the door you glance at your reflection in the mirror one last time, but what catches your eye is the unsightly blue vein on your calf. It seems to have appeared over night, but what you are seeing is a blood vessel that over time has grown into what is known in the medical field as a varicose vein. Affecting women more than men, this condition can occur at many different stages in life, but is more commonly seen in middle aged or elderly individuals.
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose Veins are enlarged and tangled veins containing pooled blood. In a normal healthy vein, leaflet valves inside the vein open and close creating a smooth blood flow that is upward and towards the heart. In varicose veins however, leaflet valves no longer meet properly and blood flow becomes backwards or retrograde. This occurs most commonly in the superficial veins closest to the skin. The professionals at Soderstrom Skin Institute are trained in a variety of techniques to help reduce or completely obliterate these pesky and sometimes painful vessels.
Not to be confused with larger more prominent varicose veins, spider veins and telangiectasia are smaller dilated blood vessels seen on the legs, chest and face. They appear as red, purple and blue veins with central feeder vessels that spread out across the skin in a spider leg-like formation. Telangiectasias are limited to the face, nose, cheeks or chin, and occur more frequently in women than in men.
What are the Treatment options?
Minimally invasive out-patient procedures are used by the Soderstrom Skin Institute to treat varicose and spider veins. Before beginning surgery, Doppler ultrasound and other flow studies are often needed to determine which of the treatment options listed below should be utilized. Doppler ultrasound works by bouncing high frequency sound waves (ultrasound) off red blood cells to determine blood flow.
- Larger varicose veins can be treated by a laser that causes the lumen on the veins to seal together. Sometimes surgery is necessary first to repair veins with leaky valves to reduce the gravity pressure of the blood into the spider veins.
- The more traditional surgical approach removes the tortuous, visible, or aching veins. Then your surgeon surgically ties-off or eliminates the perforator veins that feed blood to the outer skin layer where the purple and red spider veins are.
- Sclerotherapy is a process in which a liquid sclerosing agent is injected into the spider vein causing the vein to seal shut. Oftentimes these veins seal, but sometimes the veins or a small collection of blood needs to be removed so the vein can heal completely.
- The smaller purple or red veins may be treated with the Aura or Apogee laser. In some cases, the vein can actually be seen collapsing as the laser beam is used to treat it.
It may be recommended that leg vein patients wear support stockings for a few days after the laser treatments have been completed. This helps to compress and seal the treated vessels and reduce the development of dark spots under the skin. Depending upon the severity of each individual’s veins, multiple treatments are almost always necessary for optimum results.
To schedule an appointment with a board certified physician at Soderstrom Skin Institute, call 1-888-970-7546.