Studio 512

It’s what so many women (& some men) dread when they look down at their legs — those faint blue lines known as spider veins and varicose veins. Dr. Taylor Smith, a vascular surgeon with VeinSolutions, stopped by to explain what you can do to get rid of them.

What’s the difference between spider veins and varicose veins? Is there a way to avoid getting them?

Spider veins are a group of dilated veins that appear close to the surface of the skin and look like spider webs or tree branches. They are usually red or blue. Although they can develop anywhere, they are most common on the legs and face. Spider veins are very common, especially in people over the age of 50. Often, these abnormal veins cause no symptoms, but they can sometimes trigger swelling, throbbing, and they may become painful. Varicose veins are abnormal superficial veins that develop in the soft tissue beneath the skin. These veins are painful and appear swollen and knotted. They can form anywhere on the body, but generally the veins in the legs and thighs have a higher tendency of becoming varicosed. These abnormal veins do not transport blood back to the heart efficiently; therefore, they can be removed without causing problems. In fact, removal can improve the venous circulation.

How do you treat them? Are these treatments covered by insurance?

Sclerotherapy is an injection treatment used to eliminate spider veins and small- to medium-sized varicose veins. The abnormal vein(s) are injected with a solution that is irritating to the vein wall. External compression is applied with pressure dressings and prescription-gradient compression hose. Spider veins are considered cosmetic and therefore not covered by insurance. Varicose veins especially those causing symptoms such as swelling and leg pain are considered medically necessary and therefore covered by most insurances. Surgeons will likely suggest surgery to include an ablation or phlebectomy for larger varicose veins. The surgeon’s goal is to remove varicosities to achieve the best results with minimal scarring and to relieve symptoms of pain or swelling that often occur. While surgery is not indicated for the treatment of small varicose or spider veins, it may be indicated to treat an underlying problem before proceeding with sclerotherapy. Today, with the combination of the technology of venous duplex imaging and the meticulous surgical techniques of our vascular surgeons, patients are able to achieve optimal cosmetic and therapeutic results.

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Sponsored by VeinSolutions. Opinions expressed by the guest(s) on this program are solely those of the guest(s) and are not endorsed by this television station.

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