Based on name alone, spider veins sound incredibly sinister. However, in most cases they are not painful or indicative of any harm. Those who have them may wish to treat them for beauty and cosmetic reasons – spider veins show up as blue, purple, or red veins visible on the surface of the skin and can be eye-catching if looked at for too long. Also known as thread veins, spider veins can appear as simple lines, or more complex configurations like webs or branches. There are a range of treatments that can remove spider veins, or at least reduce their visibility on the surface of the skin.
Causes of Spider Veins
Spider veins occurs when the valves inside the veins stop working properly, such as when chronic venous insufficiency (CVI) develops within the circulatory system. As a result, the weakened valves cannot adequately propel the blood through the veins in the direction it needs to go, causing it to pool over time. This can make the veins bulge up towards the surface of the skin, where they appear as colored lines.
While they are similar, spider veins are not varicose veins. While both can develop as a result of CVI, they take distinctly different forms. Spider veins are usually flat compared to the rest of the skin, and are painless. In contrast, varicose veins are lumpy and twisted, and often bulge out against the rest of the skin. Varicose veins usually come hand in hand with pain, swelling of the legs, and an increased risk of blood clots and circulatory problems.
The risk factors associated with spider veins are much of the same ones that point to other vascular issues. These include genetics, pregnancy, advanced age, being overweight, and hormone imbalances.
The Treatment of Spider Veins
While spider veins are generally harmless, they can cause slight discomfort, and can be unsightly if they spread too far. For this reason, you may wish to seek treatment options to remove them for cosmetic reasons. Sometimes, specialist procedures are not required. Compression stockings, such as the type used to alleviate symptoms of deep vein thrombosis (DVT), can also help with spider veins. The stockings are designed to place pressure on the veins in the legs by tightening the skin and muscle around them. This narrows veins that have become inefficient, making them work less hard to do the work they need to.
If the stockings alone aren’t enough, however, specialist procedures may be required. One option is called sclerotherapy. In this procedure, a solution is injected directly into the affected web of veins. The solution irritates the affected veins, causing them to stick together and seal the areas where blood has been leaking and causing the spider veins. Several treatments may be required for maximum results, but over time the procedure will cause the vein to shrink, and then fade. One thing to keep in mind, however, is that sclerotherapy does not prevent the development of further spider veins.
While spider veins can appear unsightly and harmful, in reality they’re more of a cosmetic problem than anything else. Our experienced vascular health specialists at Premier Vein and Vascular have access to the equipment needed to perform sclerotherapy, or other procedures that can help get rid of unsightly spider veins. Schedule your appointment today by calling 1-888-VEINCARE or use our convenient online appointment request form.