Spider and varicose vein treatment: More answers to your questions

Vein treatment timing and recurrence, health dangers and more

Many individuals come to the U-M Vein Center with questions about veins2.fwhow to make their legs look and feel better. Often, the focus is on spider and varicose vein treatment. In a recent post, I answered questions about the cost of vein treatment, whether it is painful, compression stockings and more. Here are some other questions I’m often asked.

“What happens to the veins after they are treated? Don’t I need them?”

A spider or varicose vein is a vein that is no longer working properly. When varicose and spider veins are treated with either endovenous ablation or sclerotherapy, the lining of the vein walls is irritated, causing it to seal shut. Blood will then circulate through the remaining healthy veins. The end result is improved venous circulation.

“After spider and varicose vein treatment, will the veins come back?”

If varicose and spider vein treatment is successful, the veins will not come back. However, some veins may require more than one treatment to be completely closed down. Also, venous disease is a chronic disease, much like high blood pressure, diabetes and asthma. It can be controlled, but not cured. The varicosities that are visible now can be treated, but people with a history of varicose veins are at risk of developing new varicose or spider veins.

Occasionally, some spider veins are smaller than the needle and cannot be injected. As with any medical treatment, nothing is 100 percent. Everyone responds differently, some better than others.

“What happens if I don’t treat varicose veins? Are they dangerous to my health?”

This question must be answered on a case-by case-basis. In general, if the skin on the legs is in good condition and you haven’t had complications as a result of varicose veins, such as recurrent superficial phlebitis (clot and inflammation in the varicose vein) or bleeding from a varicosity (which is rare), the answer is no, they are not dangerous to your health. Some varicose veins will progress and get worse with time, but some patients manage very well with a healthy vein lifestyle without ever having serious complications.

Part of our mission is to educate patients on deep venous thrombosis (DVT) awareness. Having bulging varicose veins is one risk factor for DVT. We encourage everyone to wear compression stockings, maintain hydration and exercise the foot and calf muscles when traveling.

“I’ve got an important event next week. If I start treatment right away, the varicose and spider veins will be gone by then, right?”

No. Spider and varicose vein treatment and evaluation can take months. If insurance coverage is an option for medical coverage, there is always a trial of conservative treatment with stockings, exercise, elevation and avoiding prolonged periods of immobilization. This trial can take 6 weeks to 6 months. Sclerotherapy is administered 2-3 weeks apart; most patients require several (4-6) treatments, some require more.

If you have an event coming up, please don’t put off your evaluation. In addition to my passion for vein health, I happen to have a passion for makeup, so I have a few suggestions to get you through your important upcoming event while we prepare you for ultimately healthy, beautiful legs!

Take the next step:


Gayle Adams photo 150x150Gayle Adams is a surgical PA with special interests in the evaluation and treatment of venous disease. She has performed more than 3,000 endovenous ablation procedures to date. She was trained in vein care at U- M by former retired Medical Director & Vascular Surgeon John R. Pfeifer, MD, and Professor and Head, Section of Vascular Surgery Thomas W. Wakefield, MD.


Frankel-informal-vertical-sigThe University of Michigan Frankel Cardiovascular Center is a top ranked heart and heart surgery program among Michigan hospitals. To learn more, visit the Heart and Vascular page on UofMHealth.org.