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Five things you should know about sclerotherapy for spider veins

Sclerotherapy is a safe, minimally invasive treatment for spider veins. We asked University of Minnesota Health Radiology Practitioner Assistant Shirley Yeary, RPA, to tell us more.
Sclerotherapy is a safe and effective treatment for spider veins. We asked Shirley Yeary, RPA, an expert at the University of Minnesota Health Vascular Clinic, to share five things you should know.

Spider veins are abnormal, small, dilated veins on the surface of the skin. Also known as telangiectasias, these small red or blue veins can be unsightly and can cause unpleasant sensations including burning, itching, heaviness, and swelling. They can also bleed spontaneously or from scratching or shaving.

Radiology Practitioner Assistant Shirley Yeary, RPA, has worked in the field for 27 years, and is currently seeing patients at the University of Minnesota Health Vascular Clinic. We asked her to tell us more about sclerotherapy, a treatment that can remove spider veins.

Our newly expanded Vascular Clinic offers easy access to our full range of services and comprehensive care teams, and a whole-person approach. Learn more about our services.

Sclerotherapy is an effective treatment for small spider veins.

Sclerotherapy involves the injection of a solution through a very tiny needle directly into a spider vein. The solution closes these veins down and allows the body to reabsorb them naturally. The body re-routes blood flow from those spider veins into other vessels, and the treated veins slowly fade away, typically over several weeks.

“Patients are really happy after I’ve treated them,” Yeary said. “They feel better, their legs look better, and we’ve taken care of those abnormal blood vessels.”

Sclerotherapy is safe, and most people with spider veins are amenable to treatment.

The procedure itself is straightforward and uses FDA-approved injection solutions. Most treatments require between one and three half-hour sessions in a clinic setting, depending upon the number of veins requiring treatment. During each session, the patient directs their own treatment, identifying which veins to remove with the guidance and assistance from a care provider. The procedure is performed in a comfortable and convenient outpatient setting.

The injections use a very small needle, and patients generally experience only mild discomfort. Patients can walk in and walk out with minimal disruption to their daily activities, and may return to work or their normal responsibilities the same day as the procedure. Yeary recommends that patients wear compression stockings for three days following sclerotherapy to ensure the best results.

Sclerotherapy is an option for almost anyone with spider veins. Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding are not eligible for the procedure.

“Because we’re treating the superficial veins inside the skin, rather than veins deep inside the muscles or other tissues, it’s even safe for people with high blood pressure or circulation problems,” Yeary said.

You decide when it’s time to seek out treatment

The choice to receive sclerotherapy for spider veins is a personal one. If the veins are bothersome—either because they are causing symptoms or because of the way they look—it’s time to call for a consultation.

Our Vascular Clinic provides expert treatment for vein issues large and small.

The University of Minnesota Health Vascular Clinic, located within our Clinics and Surgery Center, offers a comprehensive range of specialized vascular treatments for vascular problems of all types and severities, from spider veins to more serious peripheral vascular disease. The Vascular Clinic brings together a multidisciplinary team of vascular surgeons, vascular interventional radiologists and radiology practitioners. The Vascular Clinic’s team brings unmatched experience, supported by one of the nation’s finest academic medical centers.

“We work with a coordinated, specialized vascular team,” Yeary said. “Other hospitals refer their patients to us, because we offer an elite program.” Providers who offer this service at the Vascular Clinic include Yeary and Nurse Practitioner Lisa Long.

Even though spider vein sclerotherapy is considered a cosmetic treatment, many people do experience improvement in their symptoms following treatment. Sometimes, spider veins are related to a more significant underlying condition. Yeary will evaluate a patient’s medical history and conduct a physical exam to determine whether additional care is needed. Yeary works with a multidisciplinary team of experienced vascular interventional radiologists and vascular surgeons who provide the full spectrum of state-of-the-art medical vein treatments if required.  Referral to one of these specialists is an easy, seamless process. 

A free consultation can help you decide if sclerotherapy is right for you.

Yeary offers free initial consultations with patients considering sclerotherapy treatment for spider veins. During a consultation, she takes time to answer each patient’s questions, examines the patient’s blood vessels in the legs, and discusses various treatment options. Yeary also walks step-by-step through the procedure with each patient so that they have a complete understanding of the process and expected results.

Once patients have all of the information about their specific condition, and whether sclerotherapy is right for them, they can make an educated decision as to whether to move forward with the treatment. Treatment is easy and convenient to schedule and can often be performed at the time of initial consultation.