Although spider veins seldom pose significant medical problems, they cause cosmetic concerns for many individuals. They form because of leg vein disease. Since carrying extra pounds is a potential cause of these small abnormal vessels, many patients wonder if the veins disappear after a weight loss.
The medical name for a spider vein is a telangiectasia. Wake Forest® Baptist Health notes that while these vessels are usually cosmetic issues, clusters can cause pain, stringing, and itching. These veins most commonly develop on the legs and the face. While similar to varicose veins, telangiectasias are much smaller and develop closer to the skin’s surface.
The role of a vein is returning blood from the extremities to the heart so that it can recirculate. Valves in each vein prevent blood from flowing backward despite the pull of gravity. A defective valve disrupts vein health, causing blood to seep backward, pool, and stretch the affected vein. The result is often leg vein disease that causes a varicose or a spider vein, also known as an incompetent vein.
While losing weight can help prevent the formation of new abnormal veins and protect vein health, once a spider vein appears, it is permanent unless destroyed. Fortunately, vein doctors are able to get rid of these annoying vessels with convenient outpatient procedures.
Vein specialists develop a customized vein treatment plan for each patient. The most common options for spider vein destruction are quick procedures that allow a patient to immediately resume his or her daily routine, absent strenuous activity.
Most vein specialists consider sclerotherapy the gold standard of spider vein treatment. According to the Cleveland Clinic, this procedure has been in use by U.S. physicians since the 1930s. It is also a useful treatment for some small varicose veins.
Using a very fine needle, a vein doctor injects a special solution called a sclerosant into each targeted vein. The sclerosant irritates the walls of the vessel, which become swollen and stick together. The vein eventually becomes scar tissue and disappears.
This vein therapy is highly effective. It can eliminate as many as 80 percents of treated vessels during a single session. More than 90 percent of sclerotherapy patients have a positive response. Overall, it takes up to six weeks for a spider vein to respond to the procedure. Physicians sometimes combine sclerotherapy with endovenous laser treatment or radiofrequency ablation.
A recent type of spider vein therapy is the use of VeinGogh™, a device based on ohmic thermolysis. Its supplier, AP Medesthetics, Inc., explains that the physician uses a fine, insulated needle to deliver a tiny burst of energy to each targeted spider vein. This burst of heat collapses the vessel and causes it to disappear. Each treatment typically lasts half an hour or less.