Spider and varicose veins

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Zap Spider and Varicose Veins
Why you've got them: Both result from damaged valves. "If you're genetically susceptible—i.e., female—your vein walls tend to be weak and prone to leaking," says Robert Weiss, MD, associate professor of dermatology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.

The fix: You can help strengthen veins by exercising your calf muscles often. But the reality is, no matter what you do, 50 percent of women will have spider and/or varicose veins by age 50. Sclerotherapy—injecting a solution to dissolve the vein—is still the gold standard for spider vein treatment because the solution treats a large area in a small amount of time, says Weiss. (Glycerin, a relatively new, nonirritating sclerosing agent, is known to have fewer side effects than others.) Lasers, which use heat to collapse veins, work best when targeting just a few isolated spider veins. Both treatments require only one or two sessions at $250 to $350 each. Endovenous closure, a one-puncture procedure performed under local anesthesia, is the newest and most effective treatment for varicose veins. "We insert a catheter, then thread a radio frequency or laser fiber into the vein, under ultrasound guidance, and apply energy to heat the vein wall, causing it to shrink or collapse," says Weiss. Swelling is relieved immediately and vein size is reduced by at least 50 percent. The best part: Many insurance companies cover most of the $2,000 to $3,000 cost.