Swimsuit season brings a mild level of fear to almost everyone, but it can feel especially harsh if you suffer from spider veins. Like a lot of common skin conditions, spider veins are more embarrassing than they are dangerous or unhealthy. That said, it’s important to consult with an experienced physician before treating your legs. Camille’s personal dermatologist, Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce of Westlake Dermatology, stopped by to give us the down low on treatment options. Here’s what you can do to get rid of those pesky blue veins for good:

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What are spider veins? What causes them? Why do some people have them and others don’t?

Spider veins are tiny superficial veins with dilated, weak walls. They no longer function properly and are only a cosmetic concern. The main contributor to developing spider veins is having a genetic predisposition. Take a look at your parent’s legs – there’s a good chance you’re catching a glimpse at your future. Prolonged sitting or standing, hormones/pregnancy, weight gain and advancing age are also factors. 

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Is there a real way to successfully treat spider veins?

We have two different options for treating spider veins – sclerotherapy and laser treatments. Sclerotherapy usually works the best for spider veins on the legs. It’s the process where a small amount of a solution, like a detergent, is injected into the dilated vein. This causes the vein to collapse and triggers an inflammatory response that leads to the body getting rid of the damaged vein. Lasers work differently – lasers deliver heat to the target vein, causing it to spasm and collapse. Both options take time to perform and time to see the results.

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What does the cost look like for these treatments?

The costs of sclerotherapy and laser treatments differ depending on the extent and severity of the veins, anticipated number of treatments, and experience of the person providing the therapy. Both can take multiple treatment sessions done at monthly intervals (or sometimes longer) to achieve the desired results. Sclerotherapy is a bit more time consuming than a laser treatment, but often provides superior results. 

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Do these treatments make spider veins go away for good? Or do you have to continue the treatments indefinitely? 

If treated properly, that particular spider vein will be gone for good. However, people often continue to develop new spider veins over time and may need multiple treatment sessions over a lifetime. If the veins appear to be treatment resistant, it is often the case that there are underlying larger veins that are not working properly. These deeper, larger veins need to be treated prior to starting treatment on the cosmetic spider veins. This is why it is important to have a medical evaluation by an experienced physician prior to starting these treatments. 

image via the odyssey online

Is there any way to prevent future spider veins from happening?

Exercise and elevation! Keeping your legs up at rest will help decrease the pressure that your veins have to fight against to return blood into circulation. Compression stockings can help as well, if you know you are genetically predisposed to developing spider veins, or if you work in a field where you are on your feet all day long. 

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Anything else we should know?

The best time to start treating your spider veins is in the winter. Often we will ask you to wear compression stockings after the treatments in order to maximize your results. No one wants to wear thick stockings in the middle of summer! Also, there can be bruising and temporary discoloration that follows these treatments so that’s best hidden under jeans. 

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