Say 'so long' to spider veins with swift treatment and no downtime

If you’re glad summer is almost over so another dreaded shorts season fades into memory, you’re certainly not alone.

You just might find some relief, thanks to a procedure gaining popularity.

Nurse practitioner Jamie Luecke and LaTondra Stillwell-Barker, a physician assistantTwo advanced practice providers recently completed training to add looking healthier to the long list of services available at Carle Heart & Vascular Institute. Sclerotherapy involves injecting small amounts of medicine into spider veins to cause them to collapse and appear less noticeable.

Some 80 million Americans have spider veins, and it’s safe to say most don’t care for them one bit.

Sclerotherapy is a quick, office-based procedure that doesn’t require anesthesia.

“It’s much less painful than a tattoo and less painful than a bee sting,” said LaTondra Stillwell-Barker, a physician assistant, putting the procedure in perspective for people who’ve long been bothered by the thin blue-ish, purple-ish, spider veins most common in legs.

For her, the added service is all about great patient care, even when it’s simply helping people feel better about their bodies.  

“A healthier-looking body helps people feel better about themselves. It’s thrilling to help patients get better, feel better and look better,” she said.

spider veins shown by medical provider wearing glovesPatients might call it thrilling, too, especially when they see the veins shrivel up and disappear.

“It really is cool to watch,” said nurse practitioner Jamie Luecke. “You can actually see it as it happens.”

While some people have the procedure done on their lunch break after an initial consult to make sure sclerotherapy is right for them, proper care afterwards is essential.

Quite frankly, part of the after care is BYOCS—bring your own compression stockings.

Wearing the tightly fitting socks or wraps helps prevent veins from refilling with blood and gaining new life. Patients are typically done with compression stockings in a week or two, and any bruising will likely be gone in that amount of time, as well.

While patients recover, they can’t do aerobic or other strenuous activity for one week. Stillwell-Barker and Luecke do recommend walking several times a day for 15 to 20 minutes at a time.

A team approach is important.

“I’m pleased our team is able to offer this service at the Carle Heart & Vascular Institute and that we have Jamie and LaTondra providing this service for our patients” said Dr. Scott Santeler, associate medical director of Vascular and Interventional Radiology.

The women say their sclerotherapy patients are the procedure’s biggest advocates.

“They tell their friends and family it’s like 15 years are gone in 15 seconds,” Luecke said. “They tell anyone who will listen to absolutely go for it.” 

For more information, please call Carle Heart & Vascular Institute at (217) 904-7000.