The development of spider veins on the legs and feet are quite common and typically harmless.
Spider veins appear as thin, superficial, reddish-blue wisps or web-like in pattern, and are generally considered to be an unsightly nuisance with little to no physical symptoms.
They are the result of damaged veins or burst blood vessels.
Some people, however, may experience aching, burning, pain or itching around the location of spider veins. Symptoms may increase when you have been on your feet for long periods.
If your spider veins are accompanied by bothersome symptoms, it is essential that you contact a vascular specialist who can help rule out any underlying conditions that may be causing the root of your discomfort.
A specialist can evaluate your spider veins and advise you on an appropriate treatment plan.
How Are Spider Veins Removed?
Spider veins can be caused by pregnancy or by the use of certain medications. These spider veins may disappear after time; however, some are permanent and require treatment.
Several treatments are available for spider veins, the most popular is Sclerotherapy and Laser Surgery. Below we will discuss the two procedures in more detail.
Sclerotherapy involved the injection of a solution (sclerosant) or foam directly into the diseased veins. The solution irritates the vein walls and causes them to scar and collapse. As a result, blood is rerouted to nearby healthier veins. Over time, the collapsed vein will be absorbed by surrounding tissue, and the treated veins will fade.
Typically, more than one treatment is necessary to achieve the desired results. If done correctly, sclerotherapy is highly effective, safe, and involves minimal side effects.
Anesthesia is not required and is performed in your doctor’s office. You can anticipate returning to your regular activities immediately.
Potential side effects include:
- Mild Swelling
- Skin color changes in the treated area
Laser surgery utilizes strong bursts of light that are sent directly into the vein. These bursts of light cause the vein to fade and disappear slowly. This procedure is done without incisions or needles.
For larger veins, laser surgery is not as effective as sclerotherapy. Over time, post-treatment, veins may fade but will not disappear completely. Also, some people may experience new spider veins developing in the treated area.
Side effects may include:
- Permanent skin tone changes
Endovenous Laser Therapy (EVLT)
EVLT is a newer treatment designed for spider veins and smaller varicose veins.
During this procedure, your doctor will make a small incision at the site of the diseased vein. A small laser fiber is inserted into the vein where heat is directly applied to the vein. The thermal energy damages the collagen in the vein walls, causing the vein to collapse and seal shut.
It will typically take the vein several months, or up to a year, to entirely disappear.
A local anesthetic is used to minimize discomfort during the incision and when the heat is directed into the vein.
Potential side effects, although uncommon, include:
- Discoloration of the skin
- Inflammation near the incision site
Surgery is typically not performed on spider veins and is reserved for larger varicose veins. Spider veins are simply too small and are more successfully treated through less invasive means.
Tips to Aid in the Prevention of Spider Veins
Several lifestyle changes can help aid in the prevention of new spider veins developing or to stop them from getting worse.
Sun damage, particularly on the face, can increase your chances of developing spider veins on the face. Use hats while you are outdoors and sunscreen daily.
Maintaining a healthy weight helps reduce the overall pressure on the veins and keep blood flowing efficiently.
Wear Compression Stockings
If you have a family history of spider veins or are experiencing them, the use of compression stockings may help them from getting worse.
Standing or sitting for extended periods slows down your blood circulation. Try and get up and walk around every 30 minutes when possible.
Avoid Tight Clothing
Clothing that is tight around the waist, legs, or pelvis can cut off blood flow and increase the risk of developing spider veins.
Do Not Overuse Hot Tubs or Saunas
Too much heat can cause your veins to swell, which increased the risk of developing bulging veins in the legs.
Limit Alcohol Intake
Alcohol, in some people, can cause flushing in the face and broken capillaries.
Get Regular Exercise
Exercise and cardio help improve circulation and keeps blood from pooling in the legs.
Elevate Your Legs
If you notice swelling in the ankles or legs, elevating your legs can redirect your blood flow to your heart and prevent it from pooling in the lower limbs.
Visit a Dermatologist
Rosacea can increase your chances of developing spider veins. A dermatologist can pinpoint any related skin conditions that may lead to spider veins and devise a treatment plan.
Cover Up Products
Often, the appearance of spider veins is embarrassing for people. Self-tanner or leg makeup products can minimize the appearance temporarily.
Keep in mind, insurance companies typically do not cover the cost of treating spider veins as they generally are considered to be cosmetic procedures.
Speak with your insurance company and doctor to determine what is the best approach considering treatment options.