Spring is already knocking on the door and summer is merely a few months away.  This beckons the question – Are your legs ready to show themselves?

Going bare can be scary if your legs are less than perfect.  Bare leggedness will naturally bring those unattractive spider veins, varicose veins and any other unappealing skin blemishes that have been covered up during the colder months back into the light. Did you know that at least one out of five Americans and about 50% of all women in the United States have to deal with spider veins?

In addition to ridding themselves from spider veins and varicose veins, some famous stars have gone all out to extreme measures like removing healthy veins that were just too visible under the skin and interfered with the flawless appearance of their hands, arms or legs.

Fortunately, for more rational minded individuals there are far less costly and less extreme solutions to achieve great looking extremities.


7 Popular Treatment Alternatives for Spider Veins and Smaller Varicose Veins:

  1. Sclerotherapy
  2. Ambulatory phlebectomy
  3. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)
  4. Laser vein removal
  5. Spider vein removal creams
  6. Cover up leg makeup and self-tanning creams
  7. Compression stockings and support tights


1.  Sclerotherapy

This procedure is performed on an outpatient basis in the doctor’s office and usually takes less than an hour of your time per session.  Sclerotherapy is considered one of the most permanent solutions for eliminating spider veins and smaller varicose veins.

During the treatment a solution is injected into the abnormal or undesirable vein. This causes the vein to close up and the blood flow is redirected to the closest healthy vein. The body eventually reabsorbs the defective vein so that it disappears completely over time.

For the average patient, sclerotherapy requires multiple treatment sessions.  Some offices will perform three or four treatments of all spider veins, with each session about 10 weeks apart in order to achieve a 60-90% improvement.  Others may opt for shorter sessions, treating only a smaller number of veins each time, which would obviously require more sessions.

Sclerotherapy for spider vein removal is considered a cosmetic procedure by most insurance carriers and will therefore not be covered as a benefit.

Disadvantages and/or Side Effects of Sclerotherapy

  • Usually requires a number of appointments and can get expensive
  • May cause stinging and discomfort at the injection sites
  • Can take up to 10 weeks to see results
  • New spider or varicose veins can develop in the same area and they may be more resistant against treatment
  • In rare cases the sclerosing solution can leak out of the targeted vein and damage the skin above the vein
  • Sometimes a superficial blood clot can develop in one of the veins
  • An allergic reaction against the injected medication is possible
  • Occasionally this can lead to skin necrosis (death of surrounding tissue)


2. Ambulatory Phlebectomy

Phlebectomy is considered a minimally invasive procedure for eliminating small varicose veins.  After applying local anesthesia to the area, the abnormal vein is removed through a small incision by using special tools to extract the vein. In most cases the incisions are so tiny that after several months they are no longer noticeable.

Although complications with this procedure are said to be rare they do exist.  They can range from mere inconveniences such as blistering at the site and infection of the wound to visible scarring, hematomas and bruises along the area where the varicose vein has been removed. Sometimes loss of sensation may occur as well.

In most cases these side effects run their course and resolve without causing any long-term problems.

It should also be mentioned that a randomized controlled study in the late 1990s showed that ambulatory phlebectomy performed for the removal of varicose veins has a significantly lower recurrence rate than compression sclerotherapy.  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12614412

The removal of varicose veins that cause symptoms for a patient is usually covered by insurance benefits.  However, it is always advisable to check with your insurance carrier prior to undergoing a procedure.


3. Intense Pulsed Light (IPL)

Treatments with intense light pulses seem to work quite well for eliminating dilated blood vessels and redness on the face, neck or the back of the hands. This noninvasive and non-ablative treatment uses several wavelengths or colors of light as compared to lasers, which use only one wavelength. IPL works on the dermis, “fooling” the lower layer of the skin into thinking it has suffered a minor injury, which stimulates rebuilding processes.

This method is not effective for removing spider veins on the legs because the skin of the legs burns very easily.  This can result in permanent brown pigmentation or scarring.

After receiving reports from patients sustaining second-degree burns following IPL therapy an investigation was launched by the FDA. The findings were that in most cases the users had improperly calibrated IPL devices or did not follow the manufacturer’s cleaning instructions properly.  Other considerations for patient safety should include proper pretreatment instructions, checking for causes of photosensitivity or other adverse reactions to sun exposure.



4. Laser Vein Removal

Laser vein surgery aims to destroy the integrity of the vein wall with targeted beams of light.  This weakens the vein causing it to close down and slowly disappear. Although this method does not use any incisions or needles it is also not as effective as sclerotherapy, especially for bigger veins.  The treated veins may fade over several months but not disappear entirely and new spider veins can develop in the same area.

Side effects can be pigmentation, bruising, redness, swelling and permanent skin changes.  Laser treatment can also be significantly more painful than sclerotherapy, causing burns to the skin that might heal with a scar.


5. Spider Vein Removal Creams

Creams that are promoted frequently online, in magazines or on TV to remove spider veins or eliminate bruises or signs of broken capillaries mostly don’t work.  If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Don’t let yourself be taken in by such snake oil shams.


6. Cover Up Leg Makeup and Self-Tanning Creams

Unlike spider vein removal creams, self-tanner lotions and creams can do a very good job in covering up blemishes, age spots, pigmentations and undesirable skin irregularities. The proper way to prep your skin before applying these body make-up potions is to exfoliate the skin first before the tanning lotion is applied. One secret make-up artist tip for a finishing touch is to apply moisturizing lotion after the tan has dried.  This is said to make the tan more durable and longer lasting according to the experts.

While lotion and cream tanners can take an average of 5 days or more to unfold their magic you can also materialize an express fake body tan with the help of a spray.  Bronzing spray-on moisturizer or an air brush like bronzing body spray can provide you with a tan in about 10 minutes flat.  Unfortunately such fake tans have to be reapplied frequently for lasting results, which can get somewhat expensive at a price range of $10 to $50 per can or bottle of lotion.


7. Compression Stockings and Support Tights

If tanning creams and sprays sound like way too much work or too many unnatural substances close to your skin there are indeed simpler and far less messy solutions available as well.

Fashionable compression or support hosiery can be an excellent chemical and pain free alternative to cover up skin blemishes and spider veins to give you those stunning “better than bare” legs.

If you are the one out of every two women who has to contend with annoying little spider veins or small varicose veins, there is a high probability that your blood circulation is less than perfect.  You may only notice that off and on from the achy, tired and heavy feelings in your legs as your day unfolds.

Support and compression can give your legs the much needed boost they need to keep your blood circulation humming.  Support hosiery has become so indistinguishably fashionable and sheer that you can wear it without any worries that anybody will know you are wearing tights, pantyhose or stockings with graduated compression.

Beyond the health benefits supportive legwear holds, a wide array of colors and designs will perfectly conceal spider veins, smaller varicose veins and any other imperfections of your skin that you would rather keep from public eyes.

Graduated compression can be extremely helpful for the health and well-being of your legs and circulatory system.  We are actually wondering why anybody wearing socks, tights, pantyhose, stockings or footless leggings would want to miss out on some degree of built-in support to help counteract the forces of gravity our body’s circulatory system has to overcome day after day.

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