A very common location to develop spider and varicose veins are our feet and ankles. This is due to our feet being located the furthest from our heart and because we spend a large portion of our day sitting and standing, blood wants to pool near our ankles and feet. To move the blood out of our feet, we need to either elevate our feet or walk around. Walking results in squeezing of the veins by our surrounding leg muscles. This forces the blood to move against gravity up to the heart. Once we stop moving, the blood wants to rush back down towards our feet and ankles. In normal leg veins, we have one way valves that prohibit the blood from returning back down to the feet. These valves may become damaged over time due to causes such as pregnancy, long standing and sitting jobs, obesity and genetic, resulting in an elevation in pressure within the veins. As the valve damage progresses we start to see spider and varicose veins along our feet and ankles. With further progression of the valve damage one may start to notice swelling of the ankle and feet. This is called venous insufficiency. The spider veins of the feet and ankles at this point may have a fan like appearance. The medical term for this appearance is called corona phlebectatica. These abnormal spider veins of the feet may appear red, blue or even purple in color. If you notice spider veins around your feet or ankles, this may be an indicator of underlying chronic venous insufficiency. This is a treatable problem with outpatient treatments of spider and varicose veins of the feet and ankles.
Foot Vein Treatment with Sclerotherapy
Foot veins can be unsightly and are very noticeable when wearing a bathing suit, shorts, sandals or flip-flops. The most common form of treatment for the spider veins around the feet and ankles is sclerotherapy. Sclerotherapy is a procedure performed at the Center for Varicose Veins as an outpatient and takes less than 30 minutes per visit. Sclerotherapy involves injection of a sclerosant solution into the abnormal appearing spider veins. This results in collapse of the spider veins which are eventually resorbed by the body over time. These veins are less than 2mm and thus the needle used for injections is a microneedle, small enough to get into the spider veins. Because the needle is tiny, the procedure can be performed with minimal to no pain. After treatment, you will need to wear compression stocking or a compression wrap over the area of treatment. You will be able to resume normal activity right after the procedure but will need to avoid aggressive exercise for a few days. You will be asked to take a couple of walks a day, to keep the blood flowing in the normal healthy veins. You will be able to resume your normal exercise routine the following day. A common concern of patients is if we need these veins that are being treated. The superficial spider and varicose veins are abnormal veins and can safely be treated and removed because of the presence of a large network of numerous deeper veins that can easily compensate for the abnormal superficial spider and varicose veins. You may require 1-3 sclerotherapy treatments depending on the severity and response to treatment.
Expectations After Foot Vein Treatment
Improvements following sclerotherapy will be noticeable almost immediately following treatment. There will be continued improvement over the following 1-2 months as the treated veins are resorbed by the body. Following treatment of foot veins with sclerotherapy, there may be some bruising and areas of darkening. Bruising will resolve over the following days and couple of weeks. Areas of darkening may occur in 10-15% of patients and are called hyperpigmentation. If you develop hyperpigmentation it will also improve over the following 1-2 months but may take longer, depending on your skin tone and genetics. Occasionally there may be some swelling after the procedure, which will also improve with the use of compression stockings, elevation and walking. If you have spider or varicose veins of the feet and ankles and are considering treatment, it is important to be evaluated by a vein specialist.
Center for Varicose Veins
Dr. Vinay Madan, MD, DABVLM
Board Certified Vascular and Interventional Radiologist
Diplomate American Board of Venous and Lymphatic Medicine
If you have foot or ankle veins that concern you, sclerotherapy and foam sclerotherapy are excellent and safe treatment options. Board-certified Vascular and Interventional Radiologist Dr. Vinay Madan, MD, DABVLM at Center for Varicose Veins, is an expert in spider and varicose vein treatment of the feet and a sclerotherapy expert. Call Center for Varicose Veins today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Madan or book an appointment online.