What Are Spider Veins?
Spider veins are tiny, dilated, superficial blood vessels that lie just under the surface of the skin. They most commonly appear around the ankles and legs, but may also appear on the face. They appear as tiny reddish-blue wisps or in a web-like.
While most spider veins are merely a cosmetic nuisance, there are times when spider veins are an early warning sign of an underlying circulation problem that needs to be evaluated by a doctor.
Who Gets Spider Veins?
Genetics seem to play a role in who develops spider veins, as well as age.
Also, people who spend long periods on their feet, have increased pressure in the veins of their legs and contribute to the development of spider veins over time.
Spider veins may also be caused by the following:
- Weight gain or obesity
- Sun exposure
- Hormonal Changes
What Are the Symptoms of Spider Veins?
For many, spider veins are a cosmetic nuisance that appears as tiny, tangled networks of veins, web-like in appearance, just under the surface of the skin. It is most common to develop spider veins in the legs and feet, but they may appear on the face.
When they are merely an unsightly, embarrassing, issue, spider veins do not cause symptoms beyond their appearance.
Others, however, may experience a range of symptoms related to their spider veins, including:
- Heaviness in the legs
When Spider Veins May Be More Than Just a Cosmetic Issue
At times, spider veins may serve as an early warning sign to an underlying health condition or circulatory problem such as Chronic Venous Insufficiency (CVI). CVI occurs when valves in your veins are weakened or no longer working correctly, allowing blood to flow backward and pool in the legs and feet.
When blood is not able to travel efficiently through the veins, tissues cannot receive the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy.
CVI is a chronic and progressive condition that requires a medical evaluation and treatment to ensure that more serious health concerns do not arise.
Keep in mind, should your spider veins not be related to an underlying vein condition such a CVI, spider veins should be evaluated as they can cause problems or increase in number, mainly when reticular veins are the root cause.
What Are Reticular Veins?
While spider veins are small and superficial, they are often accompanied by more substantial, bluish-greenish, veins that are called reticular veins. Also called “feeder” veins as they supply spider veins with blood, they play a significant role in the development of spider veins and can impact treatment outcomes.
When reticular veins are the cause of your spider veins, spider veins will recur if the underlying reticular veins are not treated as well.
Both reticular veins and spider veins can be treated in the same way and at the same time.
Spider Vein Treatment
The most common treatments for spider veins are Sclerotherapy and Laser Therapies.
Sclerotherapy involves 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 properly, 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.
Laser surgery utilizes intense 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.
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.
When Should I Contact My Doctor?
If you are unhappy with the appearance of spider veins, there are treatments available that are safe, effective, and painless.
If you are experiencing discomfort, however, or notice the following symptoms, it is essential that you contact your doctor for an evaluation as spider veins may be a warning to an underlying health condition or vein disease.
Symptoms to be aware of:
- Swelling in the feet, ankles or legs
- A sensation of heaviness or tiredness in the legs
- Aching or tenderness
- Redness or itching
Contact Restore MD Today
Contact Restore MD to schedule a consultation regarding your spider veins and any concerns that you may have!
You deserve to live free from any embarrassment you may have in regards to the appearance of your spider veins. More importantly, the peace of mind knowing that your spider veins are not an early warning sign of a more dangerous health condition.