Which spider vein treatments are best?

February 17, 2012 4:53:14 PM PST
It's only February, but if you're planning to get rid of your spider veins, you may want to start now.

It takes two-three months for spider veins to completely disappear after treatment. Some of the spider vein treatments are new, some old, but which one is best?

Linda Merchant says it's been 10 years since she's worn a pair of shorts.

"It's my husbands big complaint, why aren't you wearing a pair of shorts?" she said.

But she's embarrassed by her spider veins.

"They disappear as you inject them," Dr. Esta Kronberg said.

Watch the veins collapse as Dr. Kronberg injects them with a salt-water solution. This is sclerotherapy and it's been around for years.

Dr. Kronberg has treated thousands of people with spider veins and says newer treatments aren't necessarily better.

"I still like what we've used for decades. It's worked, it's successful, we don't get complications, we don't get allergic reactions," she said.

Spider veins occur when the valves in leg veins are defective and instead of moving blood toward the heart, it flows backward and pools in the veins.

Support stockings improve circulation and relieve pain, but your veins still look bad. With sclerotherapy, 80 percent disappear in three to six weeks. In a few cases, discoloration can occur.

Laser therapy destroys veins with heat, but takes several treatments. It can be painful, cause discoloration and blisters. And it is expensive. Dr. Kronberg has tested three types of lasers for leg veins.

"Sometimes patients can get blistering and scarring from the laser treatment," she said.

Asclera is a new solution for sclerotherapy with an anesthetic. Is it less painful?

"You're still injecting a solution so it still does sting," Dr. Kronberg said.

After sclerotherapy, Merchant will wear compression stockings for two weeks so the veins continue fading. It offers good results, little risk -- that's why Dr. Kronberg says she'll stick with the tried and true.

"I don't see the advantage of doing something newer, more expensive and more high risk," she said.

Even when you finally get your spider veins to disappear, new ones often develop, thanks to genetics or pregnancy. Even cheerleaders can get spider veins where they slap their thighs.

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