Treatment of Leg Veins

Why are spider and varicose veins a concern?

Superficial varicose and smaller spider veins are a common medical condition, affecting as estimated 80 million adults in the U.S.  Even shapely legs can look less attractive with bulging blue veins or a network of spider veins.

The exact cause of spider and varicose veins is unknown, although heredity, pregnancy and hormonal changes are believed to be contributing factors.  As people age, these unsightly veins become more common and often more pronounced.  Forty-one percent of women aged 40-50 years old have varicose veins, increasing to 73% of women aged 60-70 years old.  Among men aged 30-40 years old, 24% have varicose veins, increasing to 43% among 70 year old men.

While usually a cosmetic condition, large varicose veins may also pose a health risk.  In fact, 6 million workdays each year are lost due to complications from varicose veins.  The abnormal circulation resulting from varicose veins may cause ulcers, and it is estimated that nearly 100,000 Americans are totally disabled by the condition.

What are spider and varicose veins?

Spider veins are formed by the dilation of a small group of blood vessels located close to the surface of the skin.  Although that can appear anywhere on the body, spider veins are most commonly found on the face and legs and look like red or purple sunbursts or web patterns.  Spider veins are also referred to as telangiectasia or broken capillaries.  They usually pose no health hazard by may produce a dull aching in the legs after prolonged standing.

Varicose veins are swollen or enlarged blood vessels caused by weakening in the vein's wall or valves.  They are located somewhat deeper than spider veins, are sometimes raised, and often appear blue.  The origin of these varicose veins may be hidden under the skin.  Advanced cases of varicose veins can be harmful to a patient's health because they may be associated with the development of one or more of the following conditions:

Who is qualified to treat spider and varicose veins?

Dermatologic surgeons have extensive training and experience in the diagnosis and treatment of vein disorders.  As specialists in diseases of the skin, dermatologic surgeons are uniquely qualified to select the treatment method or combination of methods that works best in a particular situation and provides the optimal cosmetic results.  Dr. Chu has been treating superficial varicose veins and spider veins of the legs safely and effectively  for over 25 years.

How does Dr Chu treat superficial varicose veins & spider veins?

Dr. Chu treats superficial varicose veins using sclerotherapy & smaller spider veins with specific lasers which emit a wavelength of light which is absorbed by hemoglobin in the red blood cells in the veins, causing the hemoglobin to clump & the veins to collapse.  


Sclerotherapy is a safe  and effective procedure that is performed by a Dr. Chu in his clinic with minimal discomfort.  Following appilication of a topical anesthetic to the treatment areas, a concentrated saline & sugar solution is injected with s very small needle in the spider vein.  The sclerosing (hardening) solution causes the vein to close up or collapse.the remnants of the vein is eventually is absorbed by the body over several months.  The work of carrying the blood is shifted to other healthy blood vessels nearby.

Sclerotherapy generally requires multiple treatment sessions.  One to three injection sessions are usually required to effectively treat most of the veins.  Most, if not all, veins of both legs may be treated in each session.  The same area is not retreated for six to eight weeks later to allow for most of the bruising & discoloration to resolve. 

Following treatment of larger superficial varicose veins support stockings should be worn for three days to two weeks following treatment to maximize the effects of sclerotherapy.  Walking and moderate exercise also help speed recovery.  Larger superficial varicose veins may require three to six months to be completely reabsorbed by the body.  Although sclerotherapy works for existing spider veins, it does not prevent new ones from developing.

Laser Treatment of Spider Veins

 Dr. Chu has three different lasers treat small spider veins. These very specific lasers each emit a specific wavelength of light which is absorbed by hemoglobin in the red blood cells in the veins.  When this occurs, the hemoglobin clumps thereby occluding the vessel.  The remnants of the blood & veins are degraded by the body much like a bruise over several weeks.  The number of treatments required depend on the amount of veins present and their density.  Over the past 25 years of treating spider veins, many patients has seen Dr. Chu for treatment of "starburst" type spider veins following sclerotherapy by other physicians.  These likely resulted in attempting to inject solution into spider veins too small to effectively treat by sclerotherapy.  These "starburst" veins respond very well to laser treatment.        

Which Treatment Will Benefit  Me?

Most patients have a condition which will require both sclerotherapy and laser treatment.  Both of these treatments will be utilized during each treatment of appropriate patients.

Does Insurance cover the cost of these treatments?

No.  Sclerotherapy of superficial varicose veins & spider veins are considered a cosmetic treatment.  However, larger & deeper varicose veins may lead to compromised blood flow to the skin & if left untreated may lead to chronic ulceration & debilitation.  A consultation with Dr. Chu will reveal if a patient has this more medically serious condition and, if so, he will refer the patient to the appropriate physicians for treatments which may include endovenous laser ablation or extraction(phlebectomy).  The treatment of this more serious condition may be covered by insurance.

Actual patients of Dr Chu

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