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Spider Veins

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What are spider veins?

Small veins just under the surface of the skin indicate underlying disease.

Spider veins are tiny, thin veins that vary in color and that you can see just under the surface of your skin. They’re so named because they remind us of spider webs, and are also sometimes described as looking like marble.

Symptoms of Spider Veins

Spider veins are a mild symptom of varicose vein disease. Aside from an unpleasant appearance, they can also cause a variety of symptoms such as itching, burning, heaviness, and cramping.

Use the guide below to recognize the signs and symptoms of spider veins:

spider veins illustration
Appearance
Small thread-like; color varies
Location
Usually legs veins, sometimes chest, facial or hand veins
Severity
Can vary from cosmetic to symptomatic affecting one’s quality of life
Discomfort
May cause discomfort
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What causes Spider Veins?

Malfunctioning valves in feeder veins are the underlying cause.

Spider veins in the leg, hand, and face are caused by unhealthy valves inside feeder veins, allowing blood to flow backwards instead of upwards toward the heart. Some of this backed-up blood can lead to non-functional, “dead end” veins that appear underneath the surface of the skin as spider veins. Watch the video below and learn more about spider veins and the available treatment options.


Overview
Spider veins are tiny varicose veins that appear as thin, squiggly lines just under the skin. They are common on the legs and the face, and most frequently affect women.

Causes of spider veins
Spider veins occur when blood pools in veins near the surface of the skin. They can be caused by heredity, obesity, trauma, and fluctuations in hormone levels. In many cases, the exact cause is not known. They tend to become more numerous with age, and are common among people over 30 and in pregnant women. Menopause or birth control pills may increase the risk.

Symptoms of spider veins
Spider veins may form a web-like pattern of red, blue or purple lines in the skin. They can also cause the skin to darken. People who have spider veins in the legs may feel a dull aching or burning sensation when they stand for prolonged periods of time. Some women may notice that their symptoms worsen during certain parts of their menstrual cycle.

Treatment for spider veins
Most cases of spider veins do not require treatment, but there are many options for patients with cosmetic concerns or painful symptoms. Spider veins can be treated with compression stockings, laser therapy, or sclerotherapy. Regular exercise and weight control may help prevent the development and progression of spider veins.

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Who gets spider veins?

Men and women of all ages develop spider veins.

Many of us will eventually encounter vein health issues. It’s usually hereditary, so if your parents or grandparents have or had spider veins, you are more likely to develop them as well. If you become pregnant or have a job or lifestyle that requires standing for long periods of time, this may make them worse, or increase the probability of getting them.

Common Risk Factors for Spider Veins

There are a number of factors that put people at a greater risk of developing spider veins.

The factors that put people at risk of developing spider veins are much like those for varicose veins disease, including:

  • Obesity. Extra weight puts additional pressure on the veins.
  • Age. Though spider veins don’t exist only in older people, the disease progresses with time. This is due to the fact that there is greater wear and tear on vein valves over time. This makes it more difficult for blood to flow properly, and can result in blood pooling.
  • Pregnancy. In order to support a baby during pregnancy, blood volume nearly doubles, which leads to enlarged veins and potentially spider veins.
  • Genetics. The chances of developing spider veins increases if others in the family suffer from them.
  • Sedentary lifestyle. Sitting or standing for extended periods of time restricts blood flow and can lead to blood pooling.
  • Gender. Due to hormonal changes women often experience during pregnancy and menopause, spider veins are more likely to occur in women.

Spider Vein Prevention & Lifestyle Changes

Lifestyle changes to improve your spider veins.

Some spider vein risk factors cannot be avoided, but there are ways to lower the risk of developing them as well as ways to help decrease the symptoms associated with spider veins. Below are a few lifestyle changes to help with spider vein disease:

  • Exercise. Movement helps promote healthy blood flow. Even something as simple as walking can improve vein health.
  • Diet. By eating a diet full of fiber and low in salt, processed foods and sugar, vein health is able to improve.
  • Changing position. Avoid being sedentary, or sitting or standing for too long, by switching up positions or taking a quick walk.
  • Elevate legs. Raising legs above the heart aids veins in circulating blood by alleviating pressure and stress.
  • Wear compression stockings. These socks help support blood flow while also decreasing pressure inside the veins, and ultimately relieve common spider vein symptoms such as discomfort.

Spider Vein Diagnosis

Diagnosis of spider veins happens with a simple physical examination by a vein specialist.

Because spider veins are visible at the surface of your skin, they can simply be diagnosed by a vein specialist during a physical exam. These veins can appear anywhere on the legs, the face, and the chest. They are purple, blue, pink or red and typically resemble a spider web and can be flat or slightly raised to the touch.

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Spider Vein Treatment

Quick, effective outpatient visits treat the root cause of spider veins.

Some of our patients seek treatment for cosmetic improvement, and others are looking for relief from pain. The good news is that spider veins and their underlying cause are quite treatable, and our comprehensive approach at Vein Clinics of America handles the entirety of vein disease–not just the symptoms of it.

Spider vein treatments are performed in the office, each office visit is less than an hour. The treatment of choice for spider vein treatment is sclerotherapy in which a trained provider injects a solution into the vein, causing it to shut down. Once those veins are sealed, blood circulation returns to veins with properly working valves, and dead-end spider veins are eventually absorbed back into the body.

Learn more about treatment for spider veins

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