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Spider Veins

Symptoms, Causes, Treatments, Questions & Related Topics

Possible Symptoms for Spider Veins

Spider veins are small, damaged veins that are visible through your skin. These veins may be dark blue, purple, or red. Some spider veins appear as thin webs or branches. While spider veins can appear anywhere on the body, they're most common on the legs or face. They are usually not harmful, but they may put you at a higher risk for developing varicose veins.[1]

Varicose veins can sometimes be painful or cause a tingling or throbbing sensation. Unlike spider veins, they tend to have a swollen or knotted appearance.[1]

Top 3 Spider Veins Causes

1. Malfunctioning valves

Your veins are equipped with special valves that keep blood flowing steadily as it travels through your body, but sometimes the valves don't work as they should. Instead of pumping blood back to your heart and lungs, they weaken, causing blood to flow backward, resulting in spider veins or varicose veins.[2]

If you spend a lot of time on your feet, you may also be more likely to develop spider veins.[2] When you're standing or sitting, the blood flowing through your veins has to fight against gravity. In some cases, the valves in your veins may not be strong enough to pump blood back to your heart and lungs. The backed-up blood flow may develop into spider veins.

2. Increased pressure

Some spider veins occur after tiny blood vessels in your skin burst. Weight gain or pregnancy put added pressure on your body and may increase your risk of burst blood vessels. Coughing, sneezing, or vomiting can also make blood vessels burst. If you have given birth in the past, pushing during childbirth may be responsible for some of your facial spider veins.[2]

3. Sun damage

Sun damage weakens the tissues in your skin and makes the blood vessel more likely to rupture. Spider veins caused by sun damage are especially common on the face.[2]

4 Ways to Prevent Spider Veins

1. Stay active

Sitting or standing for long periods can increase your risk of developing spider veins. Regular physical activity can combat this by promoting healthy blood flow and improved circulation. If you must sit or stand for a long time, try to get up and walk around every 30 minutes.[2] Performing chair-based exercises can also help stretch your muscles and boost circulation.

2. Use sunscreen

Wearing sunscreen helps protect your skin against sun damage.[2] Most doctors recommend applying a light sunscreen every day. If you're planning on spending several hours in the sun, you may need to use stronger sunscreen. Keep in mind that swimming or heavy sweating can wash off your sunscreen. You may need to reapply your sunscreen every so often if you're spending the whole day outside.[3] Ask your doctor for more advice on how to protect your skin from the sun.

3. Maintain a healthy weight

Being overweight can increase your risk of developing spider veins. If you're struggling with your weight, your doctor can help you develop a safe weight-loss plan.[2]

Weight gain during pregnancy is sometimes responsible for the development of spider veins, but it's important to remember that weight gain is a natural part of pregnancy. If you're pregnant, don't attempt to lose weight without speaking to your doctor first.[4]

4. Avoid straining

Some people develop spider veins after strenuous coughing, sneezing, and vomiting. Chronic constipation and struggling to pass a bowel movement can also increase your risk of spider veins. If you struggle with these symptoms, your doctor can provide additional guidance.

Possible Spider Veins Treatment Options

1. Compression stockings

Compression stockings are tight garments that fit over your legs. They can help relieve discomfort caused by varicose veins or spider veins.[2] There is limited evidence that compression stockings prevent vein problems from getting worse, but they may provide some relief from aching or itching caused by varicose veins.[1]

2. Weight loss

If you're overweight, shedding excess pounds can relieve some of the pressure on your veins. Over time, weight loss may lessen the appearance of varicose veins or spider veins. Maintaining a healthy weight can help prevent new spider veins from appearing.[1]

3. Sclerotherapy

Sclerotherapy is a minimally invasive treatment that can help get rid of spider veins or varicose veins. During sclerotherapy, your doctor injects a special fluid into the affected vein. This fluid irritates and scars the vein, causing it to close off. Blood flow is rerouted through healthy veins, and the affected vein gradually disappears.[1]

4. Laser treatment

Laser treatment works similarly to sclerotherapy. During laser treatment, your doctor uses a targeted beam of light to heat the vein and close it off. Once blood flow is routed away from the affected vein, it collapses and fades away.[1]

5. Radiofrequency ablation (RFA)

During RFA, your doctor uses radiofrequency energy to heat up and scar the affected vein. After treatment, the vein gradually disappears. Smaller veins surrounding the area may disappear as well.[1]  This treatment is often used for larger leg veins. If you have many spider veins, your doctor may suggest targeting the large vein that supplies blood to your smaller veins.

Questions Your Doctor May Ask About Spider Veins Treatment

  • When did your spider veins first appear?
  • Are your spider veins located in just one area of your body, or have you noticed several?
  • Are your spider veins painful or itchy?
  • Do your spider veins bother you? Would you like to explore treatments for removing them?
  • Do you have any varicose veins?
  • Does anyone in your family have a history of varicose veins?

Spider Veins May Also Be Known as:

  • Telangiectasias

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