Spider veins are a common condition that’s not necessarily harmful or painful. However, it can be a mild sign of varicose vein disease. Spider veins are characterized by the appearance of very thin, thread-like, tiny veins below the surface of the skin. Often, these veins are damaged and come in varying colors, mostly red, purple, and blue.
In most cases, spider veins appear on the legs, but they can also appear on the chest, hand, and face. They derive their name from the fact that they look like spider webs. Aside from having an unpleasant appearance, spider veins may cause some discomfort and tend to become worse over time.
Causes Of Spider Veins
Spider veins occur when the valves in the veins fail to work properly. Your veins are responsible for carrying blood from different parts of the body back to the heart. To prevent backward flooding, they have one-way valves that close immediately when blood passes through. If these valves are damaged or weak, the blood struggles to flow upwards correctly, and instead begins to pool within the vein.
When this happens over time, a bulge begins to appear in the veins, which lead to spider veins. The cause for facial spider veins is different, however. These form when small blood vessels burst due to sun damage or increased pressure.
Even so, there are several factors that cause a person to be predisposed to spider veins. One of those is genetics. If your family has a history of spider veins, you’re likely to develop the condition. Pregnancy is the other risk factor. With the increased amount of blood flowing through the body and the extra weight from the growing fetus, the pressure on the legs can result in spider veins. However, spider veins may disappear after the pregnancy. Gender, weight, and age can also increase your chances of developing spider veins.
Often, women tend to get spider veins more than men. One of the factors that puts them at risk is hormonal treatments and birth control. This is because estrogen tends to weaken the valves in veins. Older people are also more likely to develop spider veins than younger people since the valves in their veins get weaker with time. People who are overweight are also prone to getting spider veins as the extra weight adds pressure to their leg veins.
People who have had vein damage or blood clots previously, or those who spend a lot of time standing or sitting, are likely to get spider veins due to damaged valves and difficulties in pumping blood to the heart.
Treating Spider Veins
Spider veins rarely disappear on their own. In most cases, people who have them have to be treated. There are several treatment options available, including the following:
1. Use of Compression Socks
One is the use of compression socks or stockings that place added pressure to the lower leg veins. The pressure from compression socks helps in improving blood flow, keeping more spider veins from developing.
Another technique for treating spider veins is sclerotherapy. This technique involves directly injecting the affected vein with an irritant. This causes the vein walls to stick together, which prevents blood from flowing back. The sclerotherapy technique helps in reducing vein swelling and causes them to shrink. As a result, spider veins vanish with time. A person who has spider veins will need to undergo the procedure several times before the desired results can be realized.
3. Closure System
Just like the sclerotherapy technique, the closure system procedure is done by injecting the affected vein with a sticky substance. This substance helps in closing the vein from blood flow. By preventing the back flow of blood, spider veins begin to fade and even disappear eventually.
Spider veins are pretty common in people, but they’re treatable. In addition to the three treatment techniques discussed above, laser treatment—which is not as invasive as closure system and sclerotherapy—may be used to treat spider veins. If you’re at risk of developing spider veins, you can lower your chances by maintaining a healthy weight, living an active lifestyle, and avoiding tight clothes that restrict blood flow.