Recovery after any one of the various varicose vein treatments may vary from patient to patient. Factors include the nature of the veins treated, the severity of the condition, the treatment option used, and the level of aftercare to assist with healing.
For the purposes of identification and treatment, varicose veins are grouped into two main categories based on their size. Large bulging veins visible beneath the skin are called truncal veins. Fine, branch-like veins, also seen from under the skin, are known as thread veins or ‘spider’ veins.
Different treatment approaches are used to treat and remove these veins. When done correctly, varicose vein treatments can be effective and the patient usually recovers without complications.
Thread Vein Treatments and Recovery
What are Thread Veins?
Also known as spider veins, these veins appear as blue, red, or purple lines. The web-like formation of veins usually shows up on the arm, thigh, leg, ankle, or back of the knee. Smaller veins sometimes appear on the face, e.g., the cheek, chin, or nose.
Spider veins are not considered a medical condition and do not typically cause symptoms. However, when these veins are linked to a venous condition such as varicose veins, certain symptoms may develop. Treatment may be required in such cases to prevent the condition from getting worse.
What Causes Thread Veins?
Thread veins occur due to swelling of the capillaries under the skin. These tiny blood vessels help with blood circulation. Sometimes the capillary valves may malfunction, e.g., become weakened or damaged, and result in a backflow of blood instead of allowing it to flow to the heart.
The veins then swell, stretch, and twist causing them to appear as a network of veins that resemble a spider web. Although this is the primary reason for thread veins, they may also be linked to venous insufficiency. Additionally, there are certain factors that may increase the risk of developing this superficial skin condition.
What are the Risk Factors of Spider Veins?
The following thread vein risk factors are broadly and largely linked to injury, health conditions, and lifestyle activities. Managing these and other risk factors not mentioned here may help reduce the chance of venous insufficiency or the appearance of these unsightly veins.
- Injury or trauma to the skin
- Pregnancy (due to an increase in blood volume or hormones)
- Gender (women over 35 are at a higher risk)
- Family history of varicose veins or blood clots
- Taking hormone treatment, e.g., to control birth or treat menopausal symptoms
- Being overweight (weight places pressure on the veins)
- Sitting or standing for extensive periods of time
- Immobility due to an accident or injury
- Wearing heels or tight clothing
- Excessive drinking or smoking
- Living a sedentary lifestyle, e.g., having a sit-down or desk job
Common Symptoms of Thread Veins
As mentioned, thread veins by nature are asymptomatic. When associated with an underlying venous condition, one or more of these symptoms may develop:
- Leg pain
- Restless legs
- Cramps or swelling in the leg
- Burning, itching, or throbbing in the leg
- Legs feel heavy or fatigued even after a period of rest
What are the Treatment Options for Thread Veins?
It is important to get treatment for spider veins particularly in cases where you may be at risk of venous disease or a venous condition that can become aggressive. Your venous consultant will do a thorough evaluation to determine the exact cause of the condition before deciding on a treatment option. At Vein Solutions, microsclerotherapy and vein wave the two procedures used for permanently eliminating spider veins.
Treating Thread Veins with Microsclerotherapy
Microsclerotherapy is a traditional treatment for thread veins performed by a certified vascular surgeon or specialist. It is minimally invasive but effective in getting rid of the veins. Using fine needles, the vein surgeon will inject a chemical known as a sclerosant into the affected veins.
The substance makes the blood cloth and the walls of the veins to clump together. By using this technique to block the flow of blood through the affected veins, blood is forced to reroute through healthier veins. The disabled veins will shrivel up and be absorbed by the body, disappearing in the process.
In treating spider veins with microsclerotherapy, there are some expected pain or discomfort from receiving multiple injections into the veins. The more veins that need to be treated, the longer the duration of treatment and the greater the discomfort may be.
It could take several treatment sessions to clear away all of the veins but this depends on the number of veins needing treatment. The initial treatment typically clears away about 60-70 percent of the affected veins. You will need to wait until the bruising fades before undergoing another round of microsclerotherapy.
Recovery after Microsclerotherapy
The length of the recovery period after microsclerotherapy can be extensive and usually varies among patients. Bruising during treatment can take several weeks or months to fade away and, again, depends on the severity of bruising experienced by individual patients. Other factors that affect recovery are:
- The number of veins treated
- Size of the treated veins
- The patient’s health
- Level of care after microsclerotherapy
Larger veins tend to have deeper bruising or darker discolouration which usually takes longer to fade. Swelling is also possible. Some patients have experienced bruising and discolouration up to one year after treatment. Medical compression stockings are typically worn, as recommended by your surgeon, to help improve blood circulation and shorten the recovery time.
The recommended aftercare, especially within the first 24-48 hours, will depend on your individual circumstances but could include these general suggestions by your vein specialist:
- Soothe the treated skin with Aloe Vera gel.
- Avoid extensive exposure to sunlight
- Keep feet elevated and avoid long periods of standing
- Avoid hot or cold temperatures and hot or cold baths or showers
- Avoid the use of scented oils, lotions, or moisturisers
- Manage lifestyle risk factors, e.g., regulate weight or avoid wearing heels
Treating Thread Veins with Vein Wave
Vein wave is essentially a combination of microsclerotherapy and laser therapy. The technique used is called therma-coagulation. A sclerosant is injected into the vein using an ultra-fine needle. Microwaves are applied to the veins to heat them up and cause the veins to shrink and close.
This treatment is quick and may be more effective for tiny veins on the face, knee, or ankle. There is also no downtime and patients may see improvement immediately after. No pain is usually felt and the risk of bruising and scarring is quite low. 1-3 treatments are generally required for best results.
Recovery after Vein Wave
Because there is no downtime, you can go back to routine activities, e.g., work, right after vein wave treatment for thread veins. Some redness may be visible but will resolve in about two weeks. Wearing a bandage or compression stockings is also not required
Varicose Vein Treatments and Recovery
What are Varicose Veins?
Varicose veins occur when larger veins deep within the skin become weak or damaged and then begin to malfunction. Instead of aiding the flow of blood to the heart, the broken veins allow blood to accumulate resulting in dilated veins called varicose veins.
These veins are different from small capillaries closer to the surface of the skin. Varicose veins often appear on the legs and look like twisted, bulging ropes beneath the skin and can be problematic for those affected by the condition.
What Causes Varicose Veins?
Veins have one-way valves or flaps that close when blood leaves the vein. This function prevents blood from flowing backward. These flesh-coloured or dark-coloured veins come about when the valves stop functioning as they should.
When blood pools, it places abnormal pressure on the veins and strains vein walls causing them to stretch and bulge. Unlike thread veins, these larger veins often cause uncomfortable symptoms that can be improved with modern varicose vein treatments or traditional surgery.
What are the Risk factors of Varicose Veins?
The following risk factors may cause varicose veins but having one or more of them does not mean you will trouble with this condition. However, in the case of spider veins, it is always recommended to get evaluated or treated for venous insufficiency to prevent the occurrence of varicose veins.
- Deep vein thrombosis in the past
- Having spider veins
- History of blood clots
- Desk jobs requiring prolonged sitting
- Injury or trauma to the veins
- Birth control pills
- Hormone replacement therapy
Common Symptoms of Varicose Veins
- Visible, large, twisting, bulging veins
- Itching, burning, or bleeding in the leg
- Leg cramping
- Swelling of the ankle
- Heaviness in the legs
What are the Treatment Options for Varicose Veins?
- Foam Sclerotherapy
- Endovenous Laser Treatment (EVLA).
- Cyanoacrylate Glue
- Radiofrequency Thermal Ablation
Foam sclerotherapy involves the use of a foam sclerosant injected to irritate the affected veins and cause the blood to clot. The coagulation closes the veins and leaves a scar behind which will disappear in the weeks or months to come. As with spider veins, foam sclerotherapy for varicose veins can be done at the office of the vein specialist. It can take 30-60 minutes to inject multiple veins.
Recovery after Foam Sclerotherapy
Varicose veins can be effectively treated with foam sclerotherapy. However, there may be bruising, redness, swelling, or pain near the injection site, Remaining blood in the veins usually causes a dark discolouration to the skin. Fading of the discolouration is usually extensive and can last for several months or even a year.
Although you may return to normal activities immediately after treatment, you will need to wear a compression stocking for about 3-7 days following the procedure. These following tips also help with faster recovery:
- Walk throughout the day to increase blood circulation
- Avoid sitting, standing, or lying in bed for prolonged periods of time
- Manage lifestyle risk factors such as excess weight
Endovenous Laser Treatment
Varicose veins can be effectively removed using laser treatment (EVLA). Using ultrasound for guidance, a catheter is inserted through an incision near the vein. A laser fibre is placed into the vein and then heated using a laser. This heating of the laser fibre causes the affected vein to seal and close. A similar procedure known as radio-frequency thermal ablation can be used as an alternative to EVLA but, instead, uses radio frequency energy to heat the veins.
Recovery after Endovenous Laser Treatment
Endovenous laser treatment is an invasive treatment suitable for treating varicose veins deeper below the skin. It can be performed within one hour with a post-recovery downtime of 24-48 hours. The treated area may feel tight and there is usually bruising and swelling.
You will need to wear compression stockings to assist in faster recovery. Anti-inflammatory medications may be recommended for treating pain and inflammation or blood clotting or thrombophlebitis in the vein. Recovery is the same when radio-frequency ablation is used.
Cyanoacrylate glue is an innovative treatment for varicose veins that does not involve heating or irritating the veins to shrink and close them. Using ultrasound to guide him, the surgeon will inject the glue-type substance directly into the vein to seal them. The almost pain-free procedure requires one single dose of local anesthetic.
Recovery after Cyanoacrylate Glue
Post-treatment recovery is also quick without needing to wear a bandage or compression stockings. There is no bruising, scarring, or downtime so you can go right back to your normal activities.
Surgery under general anaesthetic has been the traditional way to treat varicose veins. Unlike new and innovative treatments, surgery is an invasive approach and is usually done at a hospital. However, it may be necessary in some cases of severe or recurrent varicose veins. During the procedure, an incision is made near the groin to access and tie off (ligation) the top of the faulty vein to stop blood flow.
A wire is passed through the vein down to the knee where an incision at the knee is used to strip or remove the entire vein. More than one incisions may be necessary to remove multiple veins. Larger incisions are sutured. Right after the surgical operation, the leg is firmly bandaged from toe to groin.
Recovery after Surgery
Hospital stay is not typically required. However, patients will need to wear compression stockings for about 7 days following surgery. They may feel discomfort such as a stinging or burning sensation for about 7-14 days. Avoiding baths and showers for 48 hours is recommended.
Walking or exercising the feet regularly during the recovery period is important to prevent blood clots within the deep veins or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) from developing. Complication such as bleeding, infection, or nerve damage is uncommon but will require urgent medical care if they occur.
Getting treated at Vein Solutions
There are various ways to treat spider veins and varicose veins. More particularly, a surgical operation may not be necessary unless varicose veins cannot be otherwise treated.
Deciding on the right treatment option ultimately comes down to the findings during a comprehensive clinical evaluation and diagnosis. Mr. Sameh K Dimitri of Vein Solutions is a certified and experienced vascular surgeon who performs all of these types of procedures.
You do not have to live forever with embarrassing veins that cause pain or discomfort. Call today to schedule a consultation.