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Spider Veins

What are Spider Veins?

Spider veins, also called "superficial telangiectasia," are dilated or enlarged capillaries or venules (tiny veins). The blood in the vein gives it a characteristic red, purple or blue color. Spider veins occur more commonly in women. They are often inherited and can also be caused by estrogen from pregnancy or birth control pills. [Photo]

What is Sclerotherapy?

Sclerotherapy is a method of eliminating varicose veins and spider veins in which a solution, called a sclerosing agent, is injected into the veins.

Does Sclerotherapy work for everyone?

The majority of persons who have sclerotherapy performed will be cleared of their spider veins or at least see good improvement. Unfortunately, however, there is no guarantee that sclerotherapy will be effective in every case. Approximately 10% of patients who undergo sclerotherapy have fair to poor results. ("Poor results" means that the veins have not totally disappeared after six treatments.) In very rare instances, the patient's condition may become worse after sclerotherapy treatment. [Photos: Before and After]

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments needed to clear or improve the condition differs from patient to patient, depending on the extent of spider veins present. One to six treatment sessions may be needed. Individual veins usually require one or two treatments.

What are the most common side effects?


  • Itching - Mild itching along the vein route may be experienced for 1 to 2 days.
  • Transient hyperpigmentation - Approximately 30% of patients who undergo sclerotherapy notice light brown spots at some injection sites. This usually resolves in a few months or blends in with the surrounding skin color. Additionally, in almost every patient the veins temporarily darken immediately after the procedure. In rare instances, this darkening of the vein may persist for 4 to 12 months.
  • Sloughing skin - Sloughing occurs in less than 3% of patients who receive sclerotherapy. Sloughing consists of a small ulceration of the injection site that heals slowly. A blister may form, open, and become ulcerated. The scar that follows should return to a normal color and blend in with surrounding skin color and texture. Very rarely, wound infection, poor healing, or scarring can occur.
  • Pain - Most patients feel a mild burning sensation during injection. A few patients may experience moderate to severe pain and some bruising, usually at the site of the injection. The veins may be tender to the touch after treatment, and an uncomfortable sensation may run along the vein route. This pain is usually temporary, in most cases lasting less than 5 minutes, but may last a week.
  • Other side effects - New tiny blood vessels can develop, usually temporarily. Also some patients develop superficial blebs or wheals at the injection site (similar to hives) which resolve in a day.


What is the cost?

Sclerotherapy costs $15 per injection (minimum charge of $75). Each injection usually covers a 1 by 1 inch to 3 by 3 inch "vein network" or a 3 to 6 inch length of a "linear" vein. Insurance does not cover sclerotherapy of spider veins.