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2 years ago by

When I was a little kid, going to the public swimming pool meant popsicles, underwater tea parties, and… ladies with varicose veins. They would create a twisted, bulging network of highways on their legs that I found to be grotesquely fascinating…

My mom had them, too, but to a lesser degree. And now, as fate would have it, I also have a fine web of spider veins that sprawl across my legs like those maps illustrating comprehensive cell phone coverage. I started noticing my spider veins — a clustered pattern of thin, visible veins different from varicose veins, which are larger, more prominent, more bulge-y, and a blue/purple color — when I was in high school and, since then, I’ve been fixated/self-conscious/obsessed with the way they I thought they ruined whatever my legs aesthetic potential.

In college, I envied those girls with perfectly tan, uniformly colored legs. I rarely wore shorts and when I did, I’d take a pen and draw an inky line over one particularly offensive blue squiggles that lives on the outer right corner of my left calf just south of my knee. When I hit my 30s, I found myself resigned to the fact that they were here to stay and have just sort of stopped looking at them. You know when you stop looking at your number of Instagram followers? Yeah, it was kind of like that. Freeing.

But still.

I’ve never been someone who has been drawn to the plastic surgery—if anything I’ve been a tad bit judgmental about it—but my dream of getting rid of them is still alive. The only problem is 1. My bank account, and 2. I hate doctors as much as Kanye hates Taylor Swift. So…a lot. That, plus I’m squeamish and don’t deal well with pain.

But still.

So, I finally decided to get the 411 on the matter. I asked Cosmetic Dermatologist, Dr. Paul Jarrod Frank, an expert on spider and varicose veins (amongst other things!), and these were the main take aways:

Turns out that spider veins are hereditary (thanks, mom) and an age related issue (sigh). Standing for long periods of time can aggravate them too, which makes sense since I waited tables for a zillion years. Based on what Dr. Frank told me, I’d likely be a candidate for V-Beam laser therapy (since I have such a vast network of veins). In this scenario the good doctor would move a laser across the targeted area—the laser’s energy heats the red veins beneath the skin’s surface, causing them to break into many tiny fragments and be absorbed by my the body. The result of the treatment can be seen immediately and no downtime is required afterwards. Done and done. Even better? When I asked him to rate the pain On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the most painful, he said 3—minimal discomfort and a small pinching sensation.

Have any of you ever considered out-patient plastic surgery like this? If so, what kind and how did it go?

 

Bag, Mark Cross; Skirt, Topshop

44 comments

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  • I’ve got them and have had treatment! In my teens and twenties I was very conscious about having them, especially a purple patch of a concentration of veins behind my knee that a bitchy girl once delighted in pointing out as a major deformity – and insinuated I shouldn’t let my boyfriend ever see my bare legs because they were so ugly. Kind of tricky when, um, anyway…

    I had something called Sclerotherapy perhaps 8 years ago, which is where saline is injected into the veins, causing the blood to clot. I had 8 sessions of it. I’m imagining it’s the same with any treatment, that if there’s an underlying cause for your veins doing that, they will come right back, as mine did! Now I’m in my late thirties and I do not care a hoot and neither does my boyfriend, who has probably never noticed them! The only thing I care about is having wasted all that money on sclerotherapy, when for the same cost I could’ve gone on holiday and got a tan which makes them much less noticeable anyway!

  • Lisa, if the doctor is telling you that V-Beam will take care of your veins…go for it! V-Beam is nothing and you’ll be so happy you did it. I’ve had spider veins, scars and bruises V-Beam-ed and it was like “That’s it?!” Honestly, anything that makes you feel better, isn’t invasive and doesn’t cost that much…I’m all for.

  • Thanks for this! Any idea from the doctor you spoke to how much the laser procedure would cost?

  • Susan Newell August, 19 2015, 9:58 / Reply

    Lisa,

    Just a thought. I would have an ultrasound done on your legs to see if your saphenous veins are working properly. You can have all the sclerotherpy and laser in the world but if the large vein is compromising your legs than it is best to close off the saphenous vein and THEN do the other procedures. Get a second opinion.

  • I just started getting a couple — it’s not cute!

    http://hashtagliz.com

  • Actually, Taylor Swift recently revealed that she was friend with Kanye… thanks to Jay Z. Maybe it’s a sign to jump in !

  • I guess, a simple op does sound rather tempting, but for now I am going to believe in a power of nutrition, natural therapies and a touch of Prrty Peaushun :) Works a treat. x

  • That’s my phylosophy too, but have you found a natural treatment for veins that works??

  • Bonjour,

    J’ai eu des scléroses des veines pour les plus grosses, et du laser pour les plus petits vaisseaux, ceux qui apparaissent en étoile, et bleus. Ni l’un ni l’autre ne font très mal, même si ce n’est pas agréable à faire. Pendant quelques années c’était bien, mais malheureusement, insuffisance veineuse oblige, ça revient (merci l’hérédité!). Mais ça vaut la peine quand même de le faire. A réserver aux périodes d’hiver, quand on ne met pas ses jambes au soleil, ni quand la chaleur aggrave l’insuffisance.

  • I would love to do that procedure! please tell us, if you do do it, how it went. I have been waiting for medical advances where you don´t go through difficult procedures, maybe this is one. I lost weight and they showed up, they were hidding behind the fat jajaja.

  • eastvillagesiren August, 19 2015, 10:59 / Reply

    Yes I have them, they’re hereditary, and yes, I’ve thought of getting some treatment, but yes the cost – I’d rather spend the money on a vacation, fine bottle of wine, my retirement and charitable donation(s) ; )

    In the end, the two or three veins on my legs don’t bother me so much. I’d rather focus on not making it worse by keeping my weight stable, not sitting all day, exercise, and self-massage. I go bare-legged during the summer, and if I have a professional meeting, I’ll sometimes use a concealer lightly over the blue vein on my lower leg to blend it in a bit, as I don’t really tan and don’t use self-tanner (I’m too lazy!

    If someone feels they want to get rid of their veins and they have the resources, go for it. But if they’re hereditary, they may well be a fact of your life, so consult with a dermatologist or doctor about what, if anything, you can do to be proactive.

  • Stephanie August, 19 2015, 11:10 / Reply

    I don’t know anything about this treatment, but until you decide what you want to do, why not try MAC face & body makeup in a shade that matches your skintone? I don’t have spider veins, but do have pale, veiny legs, and I swear by this in summer. It really stays, doesn’t transfer — you have to sort of scrub it off with soap and water at the end of the day. If that doesn’t cover them, try DermaBlend, which is more heavy-duty, but it will give you a perfect finish.

    I know we all long for our bodies to be 100% perfect without any makeup or anything, but I say beauty is 10% illusion and 90% attitude!

  • Laura Parsons August, 19 2015, 12:01 / Reply

    Thank God! I’m 26 and have always had the same issue; my skin is pretty pale and though I love it on the rest of my body, my legs have always been a point of insecurity. I refuse to fake tan and so I have no other choice but to wear trousers or skirts that sit just below the knee (the least flattering aswell). I was damn glad when ‘midi’ came back into fashion a few years ago. Anyway. I am yet to have any veins which actually BULGE out and I think would only go for the laser treatment when that happened, but that’s personal. I’d say go for it if it makes you more confident and isn’t going to give you too much of a headache in the future. A little laser work sounds almost like fun!

  • Susan is right. Get the ultrasound first. I had an ultrasound with spectral Doppler analysis at Mayo Clinic which showed severe incompetence of the great saphenous vein. So last Friday I underwent Endovenous laser therapy on the GSV and 7 stab phlebectomies to treat my very rope-y looking varicosities and my lower right leg. I went home a few hours later and only needed Tylenol afterwards. Get the best medical care you can. You might need a vascular surgeon like I did.

  • I have not-quite-matching sets of spider veins on the backs of my knees, and the beginnings of some on the side-knee area which will no doubt bloom into maroon fireworks in the fullness of time. I started noticing mine at around age 23 and literally didn’t wear shorts or skirts above my knees without tights for the next ten years. Then at age 34 I suddenly thought, *this is stupid,* and reintroduced both into my life. I’m glad I did, but like you I still would rather get rid of them at some point, after I decide for sure whether to have baby no. 2. At a bare 5′-4″ I’d love to show as much leg as possible without wondering if I look terrible from behind! Of course I’d also love to be the sort of person who doesn’t care about spider veins or what other people think — probably a better thing to work on in any case.

    xx
    m

  • I would consider a treatment only if I had a very bad case that kept me away from wearing what I love. xo

    Kisses,

    (=’.’=)
    -Lauren
    adorn la femme

  • voila c'est moi August, 19 2015, 1:40 / Reply

    I’d go for the surgery if you can afford it. I’m a believer in self acceptance and developing spirit and confidence, but I think that’s a pretty mild adjustment. I have a far worse problem- cellulite on the front of my legs. It’s not awful for a 44 year old, but I’m in good shape and it frustrates me that it won’t go away. If anyone has hints about cellulite removal, please share!!

  • Comme me l’a dit ma phlébologue : ” aucune intervention n’est anodine et sur ce sujet, si la nécessité n’est pas d’ordre médical, passez votre chemin.” Bref, ne prenons pas de risque en supprimant des vaisseaux dont nous pourrions avoir un jour besoin, juste pour cette idée que l’on se fait (encore) de la beauté (même si c’est hyper tentant)! :)

  • Everyone, please stop obessing over minor imperfections. I have them too, and actually, although it’s easy to get paranoid, people don’t even notice. Everyone else is too busy looking at their phones to spot your veins/ spots/ bad hair days/ crooked toes. It’s called being human and being unique, people.

  • Amen. I see more and more of this sad approach on your site, Garance. A troubling double discourse that vows to celebrate self-acceptance, while your writers will ceaselessly turn their body self-awareness into an opportunity to editorialize body-shaming and to promote body control solutions (at the top of my head, recently: arm hair, bunions, now varicose veins). This is not liberating, or light, or positive in any way. What this does, effectively, is send a reminder to your readers that the female body is constantly on the verge of becoming socially unacceptable.

    With no coherence in its underlying discourse, your site will become just another spineless and disingenuous piece of opportunistic media. If that’s what you want, then fine.

  • Garaaaance! I can’t believe you have issues with your legs. I always thought they were your best best feature!!! xxxx

  • Little Parisienne August, 24 2015, 11:00

    Garance did not write this piece (Lisa did).

  • I started getting spider veins in college and had sclerotherapy done when I was 25 after my first child was born and now I have my “veins done” every 2-3 years for maintenance. It is very important to have ultrasound guided treatment to reach the diseased feeder veins that cause the problem. These “feeder” veins are under the surface of the skin and are not visible to the eye without ultrasound. I’ve tried laser and surface sclerotherapy and the results just aren’t as good and is a waste of money in my experience. If you don’t destroy the feeder veins, new spider veins will pop up later. In my area (Oregon) treatment costs $750 per treatment and you have to wear medical grade compression stockings for two whole weeks. It is worth it though. And find a skilled and experienced surgeon to give treatment. It is expensive but I find I would rather have clear legs than a bunch of new clothes to hide them.

  • This is actually the first time I’ve ever seen an online discussion in the fashion world! Wow … fantastic and thanks for bringing a sense of normality to this. I’ve had spider veins and have had saphenous vein issues in my legs and have had extensive sclerotherapy. Definitely make sure that you get an ultra sound. My doctor injected with his RH whilst using ultra sound with his LH. I’ve been very lucky with my choice of doctor as this has been something that I’ve been REALLY self conscious about and my doctor has really helped. I’ve just lost 16 kilos which seems to have made a real difference to some smaller spider veins that persisted around my left knee. I didn’t lose the weight for this reason … but hey, I’m not complaining! I might even go to the beach this summer! Make sure you get that ultra sound because you could waste your money on superficial veins and there might be a saphenous vein issue.

  • Great post.. but is anyone else wondering where that fabulous green skirt is from??? LOL I need it in my life.

  • Get used to them!! I had laser therapy IVL which is the latest thing. Two years later, they are creeping back. I wear pants and love tights in the winter. When in Florida, I get very tan but…they are still there. Walk a lot, show off your good parts and be glad that this is all we have to worry about. Life is too short to focus on your veins.

  • Just imagine how many comments there would be if the next post was about cellulite!!!

    http://www.lapelsandloafers.com

  • cynthia hacinli August, 19 2015, 9:19 / Reply

    Love the the contrast of colors and textures of the skirt, espadrilles, and box bag. Where are they from?

  • Lindsay King August, 20 2015, 2:03 / Reply

    Oh my goodness, it’s like I wrote this myself! I haven’t done it but I know people who have and were happy. I think it is key to do your homework and research other people that have had the same person do this treatment though… One girl I know has permanent bruising from it… ???? which kinda defeats the purpose!

  • Jusqu’à te lire, franchement, j’étais réticente. Maintenant que tu nous dis que ce n’est ni compliqué ni douloureux, j’avoue y penser… Merci ;-)

  • very nice article, this problem is very popular in the women’s world, Im a victim of this!
    thank you for sharing :)

    http://klausstrofobia.com/

  • Chère Garance, j’ai fait l’erreur il y a 5 ans environ de faire injecter une varice et si l’effet a été surprenant pendant 2 ans, j’ai maintenant un truc horrible qui ressemble à une toile d’araignée sur la jambe, bien en vue. Ne touchez à rien, je regrette ce geste et tout l’argent dépensé.

  • I too have those dreaded spider veins and they are getting worse with age. I am tempted to try the laser you discussed in the post, but still a bit nervous about it.
    In the meantime, I just cover them up with a bit of strategically placed makeup when I feel the need.
    http://www.blushandbeyond.com/makeup/how-to-cover-up-spider-veins-for-sexy-summer-legs/

    Colleen

  • I have varicose veins also inherited from my mom. I’m 30 now and I would say they got really noticeable about 3 years ago. I’m so self-conscious about them I stopped wearing shorts and skirts. I went and saw a doctor about fixing them a couple months ago but at $4000/leg it is not something I can see happening any time soon.

    I feel your pain! PS never read the book “This is Where I Leave You,” the way the author speaks about women’s legs and veins probably added 10-fold to my embarrassment around my veins.

  • Hi! I’ve them too (and so does my mother…). I did a sclerotherapy treatment 10-15 years ago, in my early twenties, and it helped a lot. Now they came back in a different part of the leg and I’m considering doing some treatment again. It was almost pain free, but, yeah, it can be expensive (and that’s why I’ve been postponing it). X

  • CATHERINE August, 21 2015, 4:36 / Reply

    Lisa (not Garance!), just a thought, does self-tanning lotion make your legs look better? ( the sun and the heat might very well make the problem worse)
    I had ear plastic surgery (in and out) when I was 32!! I’m really happy I did it, but the pain was more like an 8. My husband took amazing care of me though.
    If you have a boyfriend, I hope he loves your legs and tell you how beautiful you are, great therapy.

  • Héloïse M. August, 21 2015, 10:12 / Reply

    Aaaaah quel plaisir de lire un tel post! Dieu merci! J’ai des varices sur les jambes, en particulier au niveau de mes cuisses, car elles sont de couleur bleu/violet sous une peau trèèèèèès pale! Autant dire que ça se remarque de suite! On me demande même parfois ce que j’ai fait pour avoir autant de bleus sur les jambes! Ouillle! Mais j’avais vu que c’était héréditaire et mon arrière grand mère (merci l’hérédité!) les avait traité et cela est revenu en bien pire alors je pense que, malheureusement, nous sommes un peu condamnées à vivre avec! Mais, en tout cas, je suis vraiment contente de lire un tel post surtout que je complexe à mooooooort à cause de ça et que je n’ose pas porter de shorts ou de jupes trop courtes l’été tellement je trouve ça moche et repoussant!

  • Lisa, je n’ai jamais eu de vraies varices (cordons tortueux et protubérants) mais beaucoup de vaisseaux dilatés – un grand complexe quand j’ai commencé à les voir apparaître (vers 20 ans)…alors je les faisais scléroser par un phlébologue chaque année en fin d’hiver sur plusieurs séances puisque j’en avais pas mal – les piqûres étaient supportables il y a pire !
    Le sport m’a bien aidé, surtout les bains de mer en plongeant dans les vagues et en marchant beaucoup dans l’eau tout en discutant avec des copines qui avaient bien souvent le même problème –
    Autobronzant au printemps et ensuite bronzage sans trop d’exposition au soleil et le tour était joué ! bien sûr il ne fallait pas inspecter de trop près mes jambes car il restait toujours quelques vilains petits vaisseaux par ci par là…mais il n’y avait que moi qui les voyais (je n’en suis pas sûre !).
    Mon homme a tout de suite aimé mes jambes (à 20 ans) et continue de les aimer 50 ans après ! hihi ! mais je les entretiens avec la natation et la marche.
    Il n’y avait pas de laser à cette époque seulement la sclérose et heureusement ! j’ai donc eu plusieurs centaines de scléroses dans mes jambes et croyez-moi : aucune trace ! je ne le fais plus depuis une dizaine d’années (arrêt entre 50 et 60 ans) mais à mon âge cela ne me pose plus de problèmes car hélas ce ne sont pas les seuls…ils arrivent tous petit à petit et vous verrez qu’ on s’y habitue..mais cela ne nous empêche pas de garder du charme !
    Il faut éviter de porter des jeans slim, des talons trop hauts, des ceintures trop serrées et penser à surélever légèrement les pieds de son lit.
    Allez courage ! rien de méchant !

  • Hi Lisa, I has the same problem than you and I have tested laser method but unfortunately, the final result is not definitive… So I must go to the doctor each year : varicoses always come back. Too bad but I keep hope to find a good solution with real result. Hope it will be more efficient for you !

    xxxx

  • Stephanie August, 26 2015, 2:56 / Reply

    My solution is my DOG: Since I have a dog I have no problems anymore, because I’m walking at least an hour a day. My varicosis is not seen from outside, so I don’t have an aesthetical problem, just the pain and the feeling of narrowness in the lower legs. It costs you nothing and it makes you happy in one time.

  • Je ne dirais pas dans ce cas qu’il s’agisse de chirurgie esthétique, mais bien de la réparatrice ! Les varices ça peut vite gâcher la vie, or la médecine, ce n’est pas seulement fait pour sauver des vies, ça permet de mieux vivre, donc pourquoi s’en priver dans ce cas ?

    http://www.pardonmyobsession.com/

  • J’ai une grosse varice zizagante trop moche qui est apparue sur l’intérieur de mon mollet droit à l’âge de… 14 ans >< la déprime. J'ai donc caché mes jambes de à peu près cet âge là (pas de jupe pas de robe) jusqu'à cet été (et je fais 4 ans la semaine prochaine…). J'ai jamais étudié de l'effacer. Je fais des bleus super facilement. Et maintenant je me dis tant pis, c'est ma déco. Ca ajuste pris 26 ans haha.

  • Hello Lisa, j’ai me suis fait enlever la veine saphema de ma jambe droit avec du laser, dans une trés bonne clinique á Bilbao, Dermitek. C’est très bien passé et je suis TRES contente. L’intervention c’est pire d’y penser puisque on n’a pas de douleur: C’est moins douleureux qu’un nettoyage de la bouche chez le dentist !. Tu as un peu mal la première nuit mais en prennant des anti-douleur ça va. Le même jour, je marchais normalement. Le coté esthétique c’est rien à coté de ce que tu gagnes en santé, je vais dire, je n’ai plus de douleurs que j’avais en été surtout avec la chaleur. Il faut etre disciplinée (c’est facile à dire :), mettre de collants, bouger, faire attention a ne pas trop grossir etc etc …

  • I am considering it. Just like you, I am afraid of the pain and that I would not be able to run or work out for a while. Plus, I’ve been told that the “spiders” keep coming back :(

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