Spider veins, although smaller then varicose veins, can appear more prominent. These little purple and red veins are easily visible just below the skin, and they are primarily visible on the legs and face.
What causes spider veins?
A number of factors are responsible for the creation of spider veins. Some of these risk factors include:
- Genetic predisposition: Over 90 percent of people with spider veins have relatives who also have them.
- Pregnancy: A combination of increased blood flow in the body and increased pressure that the fetus places on the pelvis and legs causes venous insufficiency. This results in the conditions we know as spider veins and varicose veins.
- Being female: Hormones estrogen and progesterone, females tend to suffer from venous insufficiency more often than men.
- Age: As we age, valves in our veins can weaken and become inefficient at moving blood along these pathways. Calf muscles which help to support blood flow back toward the heart can also weaken with age, causing issues with pooling.
- Hormone treatments: Hormones that are already present in the body, in addition to medications that allow these hormones to fluctuate, such as birth control and medications for menopause, can contribute to venous insufficiency.
- Sitting or standing for extended periods of time: Veins in the legs have to work harder to pump blood back to the heart for re circulation. Sitting or standing for long periods of time causes blood to become stagnant and pool in the legs.
- Previous clots or vein damage: Damage to the legs through accidents or other incidents of vein damage can contribute to the development of spider veins.
- Excess pressure on the face: Excessive coughing, forceful sneezing, or even pushing during childbirth cause excess pressure on the veins in the face. These little pathways can burst, causing spider veins to appear on cheeks, chin, and nose.
- Sun damage: Ultraviolet light from the sun can exacerbate the condition of spider veins, causing more to appear.
Spider veins occur when valves inside your veins stop working properly. As the valves inside your vein fail, blood can no longer flow away from or toward the heart once more as intended; stagnant blood begins to pool in the veins, causing issues with bulging and discoloration that we see as spider veins.
Though spider veins are generally harmless, they are enough of a cosmetic nuisance that they cause some to want to cover up their legs, even in extreme heat. While treating spider veins is not a medical necessity, people opt for treatment to remove the unsightly discoloration that they cause and to regain their confidence when baring their legs once more.
The exact reason that spider veins appear has not been pinpointed, but hormones progesterone, estrogen, and genetics are thought to play a role in their debut. They tend to be more prominent in women, and they occur most commonly around pregnancy and hormone replacement therapy.
Is it safe to remove spider veins?
Generally speaking, it is safe to remove spider veins. Procedures for doing so are outpatient, and most people can resume a normal level of activity within days. Let’s take a look at some possible treatment options for removal:
Compression stockings or pantyhose help to place pressure on the veins in the legs, stimulating them to increase blood flow. They can be worn around the clock or at times when you are sitting or standing to prevent further issues with pooling and circulation. While they will not remove existing spider veins, they can prevent further issues from developing.
The process of sclerotherapy involves injecting an irritant directly into affected veins. When the walls of the vein are irritated, they stick together and prevent blood from flowing into that area. The procedure reduces swelling and eventually causes veins to shrink and fade beneath the surface once more. Several treatments may be needed in order to see permanent results. A number of trained medical professionals can perform sclerotherapy, including:
- Trained nurses
- Plastic surgeons
- Vein specialists
- Cosmetic surgeons
Upon completion of the procedure, a patient is required to wear compression stockings for several days to several weeks to help reduce swelling and promote proper circulation.
Laser treatments can be used to treat small spider veins less than 3 mm in diameter. The procedure involves a targeted beam of light being directed onto the skin, causing the vein to clot and dry up. Over time, the veins will dry up and fade beneath the surface of the skin once more. Laser therapy is a less invasive method of treatment than sclerotherapy, as it does not involve invasive injections.
Endovenous laser therapy
Endovenous, or “in the vein”, laser therapy, involves making a small incision in the skin and applying laser therapy from within, causing affected veins to collapse. This type of therapy requires local anaesthesia, and patients may wear compression stockings for a longer period of time while wounds heal.
How do I prevent spider veins?
While removal and treatment of spider veins is fairly easy, the best course of treatment is prevention. Follow these tips for preventing their occurrence to begin with:
- Wear sunscreen: Applying a high quality sunscreen daily will help to reduce the amount of harmful UV light that you allow onto your skin.
- Maintain a healthy weight: Committing to an active lifestyle will help you improve circulation and reduce pressure on your legs, helping to prevent the development of venous insufficiency.
- Wear compression stockings: Wearing compression stockings when standing or working will help to improve circulation during these times, reducing pressure on the lower half of your body.
- Staying active: One of the most important things you can do to prevent the development of spider veins is to maintain an active lifestyle. Exercise regularly and take walks; this will do wonders for helping blood to circulate in healthy ways throughout the body.
- Limiting alcohol consumption: Drinking alcohol to excess can cause blood vessels to swell and break beneath the skin. Doing what you can to limit your alcohol consumption will help prevent the development of spider veins.
- Elevate the legs when possible: Elevating the legs when resting is helpful in promoting healthy circulation, even during times of rest.
- See a dermatologist for skin conditions that can contribute to the development of spider veins. If you suffer from rosacea, ask your dermatologist about treatments that you can undergo to prevent the development of spider veins.
Spider veins result from damaged or burst blood vessels. Although they are typically not painful, some people seek cosmetic treatment to regain their confidence, see your doctor about treatment options that may be right for you. You deserve to look and feel your best!
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