Health Team

Injections, Leg Wraps Can Break Web of Spider Veins

Posted December 18, 2006 6:17 p.m. EST

— Vericose veins, also known as spider veins, hurt many people's self-image. But experts say a solution for the dark purple veins could be only a few injections away.

No one knows exactly what causes them, but spider veins usually appear on the legs and can be seen through the skin.

"I stopped wearing dresses and skirts. I wore slacks all the time," Josephine Miello said, noting that spider veins also have kept her from going to the beach for 10 years.

The most common way to treat spider veins is called sclerotherapy. The treatment involves injecting a small injection of a salt and an alcohol-type fluid into the vein.

The solution causes inflammation in the veins, and over several weeks, those vessels scar down and close up. The spider veins then disappear.

Injections are only part of the treatment. Afterward, doctors wrap the leg in a compression bandage.

"You're trying to get that vein wall, either side of it, to flatten out and seal shut," said Dr. Steven Elias of Englewood Hospital in Englewood, N.J.

The treatment, which costs $250 to $450 a session and aren't covered by insurance, takes between six weeks and three months to see the full results, and many patients need more than one round of injections.

Elias said the key is to have reasonable expectations.

"It's not going to look as if they never had veins in that area. So, if they're looking for improvement, they're going to be extremely happy," he said.