Spider Veins

While spider veins are generally cosmetic in nature, they can do a lot of damage to a person's self-image. They can be quite noticeable, with dark, jagged lines covering large areas of the face and legs. If spider veins are keeping you from wearing the clothes you want or participating in the activities you enjoy, then sclerotherapy may be a worthwhile treatment for you.

» What are spider veins?

Spider veins are like varicose veins, but smaller and closer to the surface of the skin. Often they are red or blue in appearance and can look like tree branches or spider webs with their short, jagged lines. They can be found on the legs and face and can cover very small or very large areas of skin.

» What treatments are available for spider veins?

Sclerotherapy is the most common cosmetic treatment for non-painful varicose veins and spider veins. Your physician will use a needle to inject a liquid chemical into the spider vein. This agent causes the vein walls to swell, stick together, and seal shut. In a few weeks, the vein should fade. Most patients can return to normal activity right after treatment. You may be asked to wear compression stockings after sclerotherapy to help with healing and decrease swelling.

Smaller spider veins typically take three to six weeks to become lighter or disappear, while larger veins may take up to three to four months. Some veins may require more than one treatment to achieve the desired outcome. And while treated veins will not reappear, sclerotherapy will not prevent new veins from appearing; therefore, future treatments may be required.

» How do I prepare?

Please let us know if you are taking antibiotics 7-10 days prior to or after the treatment. Let the staff know if you take aspirin daily. We will then determine if you will need to discontinue before any procedures. Tylenol and Ibuprofen are allowed. If you think you may be pregnant, please notify the Vein Nurse. Shower using antibacterial soap on the day of your procedure. Do not shave your legs the day of the treatment. Do not apply lotion, cream or oils to your legs before the procedure. Eat a light meal or drink juice one hour before the procedure. For your comfort, you may bring a pair of shorts to wear during the procedure. If you have compression hosiery, please bring them with you so we can make sure they will provide adequate support after the procedure.

Arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled appointment. If you are late, you may be asked to reschedule. If you need to cancel, please call us as soon as possible or at least 24 hours before your appointment at 704-333-3794 ext. 2220.

» What should I expect?

You will be able to drive and resume regular activities after the treatment, and you are encouraged to walk. Expect to have minimal to mild pain, bruising, cramping and swelling for the first 24 hours after therapy.

Some patients may experience the following side effects after sclerotherapy:

  • Larger injected varicose veins may become lumpy and hard for several months before resolving.
  • Raised red areas may appear at the treatment sites and should disappear within a few days.
  • Brown lines or spots on the skin may be noted at the site of the injection, possibly caused by a form of iron that escapes from the injected veins. In most cases, they disappear within 3 to 6 months, but can be permanent about 5 percent of the time.
  • Bruising may occur around the injection site and can last several days or weeks.

Other side effects rarely develop after sclerotherapy.

For the best results follow these instructions:

Day 1-3:

  • You are encouraged to wear support hosiery to "compress" the treated vessels as well as the wraps provided by the nurse for a continuous 24 hours.
  • Take Tylenol or Motrin as directed for any pain. Avoid aspirin.
  • Take over-the-counter Benadryl as directed for itching.
  • Use ice packs for especially sore areas.
  • Elevate legs for added pain relief.
  • Avoid strenuous activities such as high impact aerobics, running or weight lifting.
  • Walk at least one hour per day.
  • Do not take hot baths or sit in a whirlpool or sauna or apply hot compresses or any form of heat to the injected areas.
  • A sponge bath or lukewarm shower is permitted if you are able to keep your stockings and wraps dry.
  • In addition, avoid direct exposure to sunlight (sun bathing and tanning beds).
  • Notify Charlotte Radiology at 704-333-3794 ext. 2220 if you have increasing pain, persistent itching or rash, progressive areas of redness, warmth or drainage, fever, swelling, persistent bleeding, lump formations, shortness of breath, chest pains, or leg numbness.

Day 3 to 2 Weeks:

  • Treated areas may be red-purple in color, with some bruising.
  • Wear compression stockings during day hours for next 14 days (put on in the morning and take off before bed).
  • You may shower without stockings, but continue to avoid hot baths and hot tubs, etc.
  • Resume normal athletic activities as tolerated.
  • If needed, you may schedule another appointment in 4-6 weeks. Call 704-333-3794 ext. 2220. Call your physician with any concerns or questions you may have after the procedure.

» Which locations offer Sclerotherapy?

» How do I make an appointment?

To schedule an initial consultation, please call 704-367-7877, or schedule your appointment online.