By Mary Rose Almasi, REDBOOK
Those first few itsy, bitsy spider veins on our legs were no biggie. (Outta sight, outta mind.) But at some point in our 30s, the suckers started to multiply. Then a couple of the other, varicose kind appeared-and we found ourselves parked in front of the mirror, scrutinizing the backs of our legs with furrowed brows. Can you relate?
Related: 34 Best Beauty Products
Unfortunately, there's no way to prevent varicose and spider veins, but there is something you can do about them. In the past, vein-zapping treatments were lengthy and painful, but today, they can be done in an hour or less with virtually no pain and only minor bruising. (What doesn't work, however, are creams that promise to magically slather veins away-they sound too good to be true, and they are.) If you're thinking about taking action on your leg veins, here are the pros and cons to consider, plus one simple camouflage trick that works on everyone.
These swollen capillaries, which can pop up anywhere, look like tiny webs under the skin.
What you can do about them: A dermatologist or vascular surgeon can nix those squiggles with sclerotherapy, which involves injecting a solution into the veins that destroys them gradually over about 12 weeks. "The original saline solutions stung like crazy, but new FDA-approved detergent formulas such as Asclera don't hurt-you just feel a mild prickling sensation," says Tina S. Alster, M.D., a clinical professor of dermatology at Georgetown University Medical Center.
But know this first: It'll cost you $250 to $350 per treatment to nab a small cluster of veins, $500 to $800 per treatment for a full leg (and you may need more than one treatment to get all of them). If you're prone to spider veins, new ones can pop up after a couple of years, so you might want more treatments down the pike.
The secret fix from REDBOOK's beauty guru: "When I was 28, my then-boyfriend, thinking I'd sat on a blue pen, attempted to rub off my spider veins with his finger," admits beauty director Victoria Kirby. "That moment spurred me to find the best makeup to hide them, and after a lot of trial and error-ever tried applying concealer to the backs of your own thighs?-I found it: St. Tropez One Night Only Instant Glow Lotion, $18. This body bronzer does the trick because it's shimmer-free and won't budge until you shower. And it's not a self-tanner, so you can slap it on without thinking... or contorting yourself."
These large, raised, and sometimes painful veins typically appear on the thighs, inner legs, and the backs of the calves.
Related: 20 Ways to Speed Up Your Metabolism
What you can do about them: The options in this area have come a long way. The old method, vein stripping-a surgery that involved literally pulling the veins out of the leg (yeeoww)-is obsolete. "Now, vascular surgeons use lasers or radiofrequency technology to painlessly shrink the veins," says Mark Adelman, M.D., chief of vascular and endovascular surgery at New York University's Langone Medical Center. It takes about a minute to treat each vein, which then recedes and vanishes over the next eight weeks.
But know this first: The procedure sounds simple, but it requires a vascular surgeon-so it ain't cheap. If your veins are painful, insurance covers the cost; if not, expect to pay a steep $2,000 to $6,000 per leg, depending on the number of veins. And you may not be set for life: About 25 percent of patients report a couple of new veins appearing after five years.
More from REDBOOK:
Don't Even Think About Divorcing Until You Read This
Major Room Makeovers on a Teeny, Tiny Budget
- 75 Most Iconic Hairstyles of All Time
- Fun, Cheap Date Ideas
- 8 Tips for Baby-Soft Skin
Permissions: Reprinted with permission of Hearst Communications, Inc.