Diagnosis and Treatment 

How do varicose veins and spider veins develop?

Spider veins and varicose veins are created by faulty valves within the veins, resulting in a back-up of blood. This causes the veins to enlarge and become apparent on the skin. Risk factors for varicose veins and spider veins include: standing or sitting for long periods, family history, obesity, pregnancy, hormone changes, aging and sun exposure. The back-up of blood flow is called venous insufficiency.

How are spider and varicose veins diagnosed?

At the Vein Center at Nazareth Hospital, we use ultrasound to diagnose venous insufficiency. Ultrasound provides a detailed look at your veins. Vein disease can extend beyond the surface of your skin; it is not just about seeing unsightly veins in your leg.

Often, the source of abnormal surface veins is within a deeper venous system that is best evaluated by ultrasound. This helps our physicians get a more complete understanding of how venous insufficiency is affecting your legs. 

What are treatments for varicose veins and spider veins?

Skilled interventional radiologists at the Vein Center at Nazareth Hospital use laser ablation and sclerotherapy to treat varicose and spider veins. These minimally invasive techniques can be done in about 45 minutes with fast recovery, no scarring and immediate improvement in blood flow.

What is Laser Ablation (Endovenous Laser Treatment or EVLT)?

For EVLT, your doctor uses an ultrasound image to map out your vein, then applies a local anesthetic. A thin laser fiber is inserted through a tiny entry point, usually near the knee, and laser energy is used to seal the faulty vein. Healthy veins around the closed vein then take over the normal flow of blood and the symptoms from the varicose vein improve. Usually, veins in the leg on the surface of the skin that are connected to the treated varicose vein also will shrink after treatment.

What is Thermal Ablation?

Your doctor uses ultrasound to map out the treatment area. Your leg is sterilized and local anesthetic is administered at the catheter entry site. A thin catheter is inserted into the vein and heat is then applied along the course of the vein. The blood is redirected to healthy veins, which return it to the heart. By eliminating the source of reflux, symptoms and swelling improve and varicose veins become less prominent.

What is Sclerotherapy (chemical endovenous ablation) Treatment?

During sclerotherapy, the physician injects a solution directly into the affected vein in your leg. The solution irritates the lining of the vessel, causing it to swell and stick together. The same vein may need to be treated more than once.

These minimally invasive treatments usually are done every four to six weeks. During this time you may be asked to wear gradient compression stockings to encourage healing and decrease swelling.

This treatment for spider and varicose veins on the leg is very effective. Over time, the vessel turns into scar tissue that fades from view. Sclerotherapy is a well-proven procedure that has been used since the 1930s.