Are Compression Stockings a Spider Vein Treatment Option?

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Almost everyone knows someone who has experienced spider veins.  These tiny red or blue blood vessels most often appear on the legs or the face.  Usually cosmetic issues, they can steal a person’s self-confidence.  Once people notice their first unwanted veins, many want to know whether compression stockings are a spider vein treatment option.

How Compression Stockings Work

According to Stony Brook Medicine, spider veins resemble varicose veins, though closer to the skin’s surface and smaller.  They take their name from their weblike appearance.  More than half of individuals with these irksome vessels are female.

Spider veins develop when weak valves in veins allow blood to leak backward instead of traveling upward toward the heart.  The result is a stretched vessel that becomes a spider vein or a varicose vein.

Compression stockings support the leg’s lymphatic and venous systems.  They combine graduated compression with the muscle pumping effect associated with the calf to help circulate blood and lymphatic fluid, the University of Michigan Health System reports.  By gently squeezing the legs, they move blood toward the heart.  This helps prevent swelling of the leg.

The type of pressure compression products create when used on a regular basis helps prevent both spider and varicose veins from either developing or progressing.  Compression items are available in various forms such as pantyhose, stockings, socks, and bandages and in a variety of designs and textures.

For best results, an individual with spider veins should be evaluated by a vein specialist, also known as a vascular surgeon.  Stockings are available in different compression measurements at the level of the patient’s ankle.  While some are over-the-counter products, others are available only by prescription.  Most patients prefer to obtain two pairs to have one available while the other is being laundered.

Additional Treatment Options from a Vein Doctor

Compression stockings are one of a variety of conservative treatments a physician might recommend to treat spider veins or help prevent new ones from forming.  Among others are losing any excess weight and avoiding standing or sitting for extended periods.

When conservative measures fail to resolve a patient’s cosmetic concerns or medical issues like aching or burning, vascular surgeons offer two basic treatment options, according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • Sclerotherapy is a procedure in which the physician injects a targeted vein with a liquid or a foam.  The injected substance irritates the vessel and causes it to scar and close.  Healthier veins pick up the circulation workload.  This procedure is considered by vein doctors the so-called gold standard of treatment for getting rid of spider veins.  It is sometimes coupled with ultrasound to map targeted veins.
  • Laser treatment emits strong bursts of light into a spider vein.  This causes the vessel to fade and eventually disappear.  No needles or incisions are necessary.