Monday, May 23, 2011

Ask Us Anything: How Can I Prevent and Reduce the Appearance of Spider Veins?

"I have spider veins on my legs, especially near my calves. I am a cashier and am on my feet for eight hours a day. Could this be the cause? What can I do to prevent any further spider veins from developing and how can I reduce their appearance?"

Nurse Practitioner Lana Pasek Responds:

Nurse Practitioner Lana PasekSpider veins are red, blue or purple thread-like lines that are close to the surface of the skin and usually appear in the legs. These veins have dilated (expanded) and can be caused by pressure, trauma or faulty valves.

Long periods of standing can increase your risk of developing dilated veins.

Spider veins are not harmful but you do need to watch for other leg vein symptoms. The cause of spider veins and any other vein problems of the legs that result in swelling, aching, or difficulty walking need to be evaluated by a vascular specialist such as vascular surgeon or at a vein center.

The preferred treatment option for spider veins is sclerotherapy. This involves injecting the veins with a "sclerosing" agent, which results in fading of the vein. The procedure takes about 15 to 30 minutes. The number of veins treated in one session varies. Repeat injections are separated by 1-2 weeks. After a treatment, compression stockings are worn for 2-3 days.

Not everyone is a candidate for this procedure. To determine if sclerotherapy is appropriate for you, you should be evaluated by someone who specializes in veins and/or vascular problems.

To help prevent spider veins in the future, avoid standing or sitting for long periods of time. If you must stand for a long time, shift your weight from one leg to the other every few minutes. You should also consider wearing support hose.

If you're sitting for long periods of time, move around or take a short walk every 30 minutes.

Persons carrying extra weight will want to exercise regularly to improve their leg and vein strength.

— Lana M. Pasek, EdM, MSN, RN, APRN-BC

Lana is a Nurse Practitioner for Vascular and Stroke Services at Sisters of Charity Hospital and has worked in Vascular services for 9 years. She has master's degrees in Education and in Nursing. Lana is a licensed Registered Nurse and is nationally board certified as a Nurse Practitioner in Adult Health.

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