Spider and Varicose Vein Treatment
The Vein Center at the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute offers the latest treatments for spider and varicose veins. Your treatment will depend on the type, symptoms, and severity of your condition.
Compression stockings generally help symptoms from varicose veins and are often required as a first step in the treatment of venous disorders. A short period of compression is usually required after any venous treatment as well.
Anticoagulation (blood thinner) therapy is used to treat blood clots and deep vein thrombosis. The duration of treatment depends on the case.
- Polidocanol is an FDA-approved medication administered as sclerotherapy — a series of injections. This may help close and remove spider and varicose veins. Performed as an outpatient procedure, doctors use a very small needle to deliver this therapy.
- Ultrasound-guided sclerotherapy uses injections to close veins that are too large or deep for regular injections.
Endovenous ablation is an outpatient procedure that uses a catheter and thermal (heat) energy to safely close the vein.
Venous recanalization is a catheter-based procedure that opens narrow or blocked veins using a balloon and stent.
Venous embolization is used to treat pelvic congestion and stops blood flow to problematic veins in the pelvis or abdomen. During the procedure, a surgeon inserts a catheter and uses a coil to safely block the flow of blood and close off the vein.
In severe cases, veins may be removed surgically.
Treatment Side Effects
Patients may experience the following side effects from these treatments.
- With sclerotherapy – tenderness, redness, or hard lumps at the injection site and along the veins.
- With endovenous ablation – a pulling sensation along the vein, tenderness along the vein.
- With surgery – superficial nerve damage, which may cause small areas of numbness of the skin; this does not cause any functional impairment.
- Bruising, scabbing, leg swelling, or rarely, small ulcers.
- Hemosiderin staining, or a light brown discoloration of the skin over the treated vein that results from iron in the red blood cells moving into the skin as your body resorbs the treated vein. This typically fades over time, but may take several months to a year.
- Matting, or a small cluster of thin, red spider veins in very close proximity to each sclerotherapy site. This may not completely resolve over time.
- There is a very small risk of deep vein thrombosis with any vein treatment.
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