Our body functions because of an extensive and intricate network of arteries and veins, which carry blood and oxygen from the heart to various parts of the body, and then back to the heart for a re-purification and re-oxygenation process. However, when these blood vessels start to malfunction or there is some problem with them, there are troubles, which become hard to treat, especially when not realised in time.
The conditions that can affect the small veins include spider veins and smaller varicose veins. The method of treating these conditions is known as Sclerotherapy and while most people might be scared of the same, in the hands of an experienced surgeon, it is an easily treatable condition. Quite simply, an injection is used to deflate or collapse the vein, bringing it back to normalcy.
In this article and the next one, we will look at every aspect of spider veins and its related treatment, Sclerotherapy.
Spider vein causes:
In certain cases, the spider veins presents itself in the form of small clusters, wherein, the veins start to look red, blue or even purple. These normally become visible on the ankles, thighs or calves. While in some cases, the spider veins become visible and obvious at a really young age, in other cases, they take time to make their presence felt.
There are a number of reasons that could lead to the condition of spider veins, and these include:
- Hormonal changes in the body
- Major fluctuations in weight
- Job profiles or activities that require elongated periods of sitting or standing
Ideal candidates for Sclerotherapy:
Spider vein therapy or Sclerotherapy is a good treatment option for people who are:
- Struggling with spider veins on any part of their body
- Are willing to follow the course of treatment and medication that the surgeon is prescribing
Commonly used terms related to Sclerotherapy:
- Varicose veins – Veins that are either dilated or swollen to abnormal proportions
- Spider veins – Small clusters of veins that have turned red, purple or blue in colour and are most commonly seen on the calves, thigs or ankles
- Spider-shaped veins – A cluster of veins, that radiates outwards from a central point which if often dark in colour
- Arborizing veins – Most commonly seen on the outer thighs, the veins start to look like tiny branches, which spread out in a cartwheel like pattern
- Reticular veins – The larger veins on the leg, start to turn dark and swell up, becoming obvious to the naked eye. However, in most cases, the condition is not very severe and there is no requirement of surgery.
- Simple linear veins – As the name suggests, the veins are straight, and often quite thin. The lines are separate and can be seen on the inner knees and in certain cases, on the face.
- Hyfrecation – This is a method of treatment in which the blood vessels are cauterized
- Laser therapy – High powered beams of light are used and the intense light is passed over the affected area. The process is used to remove spider veins.
- Sclerotherapy – A specially formulated solution is injected into the vein that has become engorged. The solution will lead to the vein deflating and then eventually becoming less visible.
- Support hose – These are special stockings which are normally used pre or post-surgery. The stockings are designed to compress the leg and offer support.
First and subsequent consultations:
When you initially start meeting your doctor for sclerotherapy, there will be several questions asked. These will be essential in charting out a course of treatment and some of the topics that will be touched upon would include:
- A proper examination of the affected area
- Any injuries that might have occurred in the said area
- Any surgical procedures that might have been done in the said area
- Any pain that has been constant in the said area
- Medications, allergies, family history of medical conditions
- Use of alcohol or tobacco
- What you expect from the surgery
Your doctor will also ask you to undergo a complete medical evaluation, because they need to be prepared for any complications that might arise during your procedure. Your veins will be examined in detail and the best course of treatment will be charted out. You will also be informed about the procedure, the steps involved, the possible complications and the course of recovery as well.
In case, the problem area is in the legs, the doctor might check for deeper vein issues, mainly varicose veins. In such situations, there could be swelling at the ankles, sores or even skin changes. In case, there are vascular complications, your surgeon will suggest that you meet with a specialist. These consultation meetings would also be a good time for you to clarify all your doubts and ensure that you have a thorough understanding of the procedure.
The course of preparation:
In the course of preparing for sclerotherapy, you will be asked to stop taking any medications that are anti-inflammatory in nature or can thin the blood. You will also be asked to stop smoking a few weeks before the procedure, as well as limit your alcohol intake. If you are on regular medication, your doctor might tweak the same or alter your dosages.
Normally, sclerotherapy is conducted without any anaesthesia or sedative, which is why it is often done without admitting the person. However, more than one session might be required to see the desired effects.
In the next article, we will look at the actual procedure, possible risks and the time taken for recovery, amongst other aspects related to sclerotherapy.