It’s estimated that about one third of all Americans have at least one varicose vein, or an enlarged, bulging vein that’s visible just beneath the surface of the skin. Although any vein can be affected, the veins in your legs and feet are more likely to become varicose because they typically work against gravity to send blood back to your heart. Dr. Marilyn Kwolek, a board certified dermatologist in Danville, California, treats many types of varicose veins, as well as most spider veins, with sclerotherapy right in her office. She serves patients from communities across the Contra Costa County area.
Your veins are tasked with returning deoxygenated blood from your extremities back to your heart. To help them accomplish this essential job, veins have a series of one-way valves designed to keep blood flowing in the right direction. If these valves become weak or damaged, blood can back up and pool, causing your veins to swell. Repeated pooling and swelling is what leads to the formation of varicose veins. Varicose veins typically look swollen, twisted, and purple or blue in color.
A lack of physical activity, being overweight, and having a family history of varicose veins can increase your risk of developing varicose veins. Although anyone can develop them, varicose veins are most common in women, women who’ve had multiple pregnancies, and older adults.
Most people develop varicose veins in their lower legs or feet because the veins in the lower body are under greater pressure as they work against gravity.
Spider veins, which are commonly seen on the legs as well as on the face, are a milder type of varicose vein that develops closer to the surface of your skin. Spider veins are smaller, red or blue, and have a web-like appearance.
Varicose veins are typically treated for aesthetic reasons, not because they’re painful or because they’re causing some kind of medical problem. It is possible for varicose veins to be problematic, as they can burst and bleed, and some leg veins may cause painful symptoms, including:
Sclerotherapy is generally considered the treatment of choice for small and mid-sized varicose veins, as well as spider veins. The quick, minimally-invasive procedure involves injecting a solution directly into the veins that ultimately causes them to collapse. Dr. Kwolek uses Sotradecol® or a hypertonic saline solution, which causes the vein to form a scar that forces blood to take a new route through healthier veins. As the vein collapses, it’s absorbed by your body and gradually fades away.
Sclerotherapy, which is done in the office and requires little to no recovery time, is especially useful for treating early-stage varicose veins and preventing further complications.
Dr. Kwolek can also eradicate small varicose veins and spider veins using state-of-the-art laser technology to safely and effectively treat surface veins without harming surrounding tissues. Vein laser treatments work by delivering pulses of energy into the affected vein to collapse it, effectively sealing it shut and making it less visible, until it gradually fades away. Dr. Kwolek uses the excel V™ laser by Cutera® to perform this noninvasive, in-office treatment.
* Individual results may vary.