Getting Rid of Spider Veins is a Process

Ah, vanity.

There are two sayings about appearance that stick with me. One–“beauty knows no pain!”–is always uttered snidely, usually in association with some ridiculous length that I have gone to in order to look stylish (truly inappropriate, yet cute, footwear, or torturously binding “shaping” garments).

The other is a saying often attributed to Coco Chanel but actually from Helena Rubinstein: “There are no ugly women. Only lazy ones.” Ahem. (If that won’t make you instantly go pluck your brows, I don’t know what will.)

A Fit Body is a Beautiful Body

I’m actually attending a conversation salon tonight where the topic is beauty. I find this to be a fascinating subject because it’s wrapped up in a discussion of who we are. Not just we women, but we humans. What makes one person beautiful and another not?

Cover of Outside Magazine with Lolo Jones in a bathing suit
I once picked Lolo Jones as my “body inspiration” in a workout class. Yes, that’s a fit, beautiful body.

I firmly believe that a fit body is a beautiful body, and that’s where Rubinstein’s words hook me. If I just work out hard enough, I will earn a fit–and, therefore, beautiful–body. This applies across all ages, so it’s not as though I’m going to suddenly get a bye in my 80s. No; it’s a lifetime of walking, yoga, and strength work that will turn me into Helen Mirren (Royal Canadian Air Force workout), Sophia Loren (walking), or Raquel Welch (yoga).

In the course of all the time on my feet in search of fitness–plus a smidgen of heredity predisposition–I developed spider veins on my legs. Lots of them. And despite knowing that my legs look pretty good and certainly function extremely well, the spider veins always bugged me. To the point that, in my late 30s, I hated to wear shorts in the summer. In Texas, this is akin to opting to don a parka on a spring day. Sane people just don’t go there.

So I decided to take on my spider veins. Getting rid of them has been a process ever since.

What to Expect with Sclerotherapy

Bare legs with cotton balls taped at injection sites.
Yep, those are my legs immediately after sclerotherapy. Cotton balls compress injection sites. Support hose soon to come.

This length and cost of this quest depends on your veins. I am a champion spider vein producer (also excelling with the occasional varicose vein. Thanks to great care, my varicosities have been eliminated, but that’s not to rule out more developing over the years). I’m on my third round of work on the spider veins. Basically, I go in for treatment; the veins get better or disappear; years pass; new veins develop; repeat.

Even though eliminating spider veins improves overall vein health, insurance views treatment as cosmetic. Expect to eat the cost. (Varicose veins are different, and insurance will often cover at least a portion of their treatment and removal.) The insurance company, not your doctor, determines whether a treatment is “medically necessary.” So even if your doctor feels vein treatment is medically necessary, the insurance company could disagree. Talk to your insurance company directly about coverage for vein treatments.

Pair of medical-grade thigh-high support hose with box
These are medical-grade thigh-high open-toed support hose. The inside-out pair shows the griper dots at the thigh band, which hold them up.

Plan the timing of your treatment well. Why? For two weeks afterward, you’ll need to drop high-impact exercise (running, for example) and wear support hose. A good time to schedule is in cooler months during training recovery time, when you’re happy to walk lots and wear clothing on top of hot, strangling, thigh-high, full-footed hose. Support hose is by far the worst part of the treatment.

But what about dissolving the spider veins? There are two different solutions commonly injected into the veins: saline and polidocanol. I’ve had both, and saline stings more. But the discomfort is nothing that some intense Lamaze breathing plus retreating to a mental happy place won’t overcome. Laser treatments are an option, but I have not experienced this, as my doctors have all felt that sclerosants were the way to go for me.

The cost of the session depends upon the amount of veins treated. My latest round cost $250 (and you can see from the photo of my legs the number of injections…there are more on the backs). In addition, support hose is not cheap. I have a thigh-high medical grade pair that were purchased at my doctor’s office a few years ago; they are very tight, measured to fit my leg, and cost about $80. I also have a pair of full-footed, panty-hose style support hose that I purchased at Walgreens (almost $50). Not as tight, they are more movement-friendly.

Is Spider Vein Treatment Worth It?

I think it is. I believe that I am improving the health of my veins by taking care of these tiny, broken blood vessels. I haven’t developed any new varicose veins in years. Because of the treatments, I’m more thoughtful about my legs; I’ve even worn support hose on really long airplane flights.

Do my legs look better? That still remains to be seen, as I’m within that two-week recovery period, wearing my support hose. My legs definitely look better than they did pre-injection, though I still have more spider veins than many. Another treatment would probably knock those out, but it’s too far into warm temperatures for me to consider this as a viable option.

It’s shorts weather, baby, and I’ve got workouts to do.

Published by Leah Nyfeler

I’m a writer, editor, runner, and adventurer who is always looking for the next new story, exciting adventure, and good meal/book/movie. My focus is on helping people find their best, healthiest self through sharing what I know and how I’ve come to learn it. In addition to my blog “Enjoying the Journey: Observations on the Fit Life” at www.leahruns100.com, my articles have appeared in a variety of print and online magazines. You can hear me as part of the 2015 Austin cast of Listen To Your Mother.

One thought on “Getting Rid of Spider Veins is a Process

  1. we shave, wear deodorant, curl eyelashes, don what we consider to be flattering attire (not to mention makeup, perfume, hair color/styling). this is the next step in looking good/feeling good. so long as your self worth isn\’t derived from these things, go for it (says the woman who just had Botox).

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