Spider Veins: Causes, Treatments, and Side Effects
Much like varicose veins, a number of people develop spider veins as they begin to age. These veins, which get their name from their spider web appearance on the skin, are usually harmless and painless. They appear most often on the face, in the cheeks, on the feet and ankles, and on the legs, particularly in individuals who do a great deal of sitting or standing. While spider veins are less noticeable than varicose veins, they develop for many of the same reasons and are considered unsightly. Before anyone considers having spider vein removal in order to have healthy skin, it’s important to understand what treatment options are available.
Causes of Spider Veins
Spider veins are caused by aging, sun exposure, and by vein damage due to obesity, pregnancy, and previous skin damage or injury. When the valves in the veins become damaged, this causes poor blood flow and the veins become more visible on the surface of the skin. Spider veins are not as thick or raised as varicose veins and may spread across the skin in a webbed or starburst pattern. Their coloring is usually a combination of blue and red, but they may also present in either solid color.
Not everyone will suffer from spider veins over the course of their lives, but there are certain risk factors that contribute to their development. People who stand or walk excessively in their profession are more likely to develop the veins in their feet or ankles. Pregnant women who suffer from swollen ankles or poor circulation are a risk for developing spider veins in their legs. Individuals who have diabetes or other chronic illnesses that affect blood flow and circulation are also at a higher risk of needing spider vein removal in the future.
Symptoms of Spider Veins
There may be little warning before spider veins appear on the surface of the skin. Their color and spider-web-like patterns make them easy to identify. Spider veins don’t cause any serious damage to the surface of the skin, but they may itch or burn if those who have them stand or sit for long periods of time. Women tend to experience spider veins and their accompanying symptoms more than men. This is attributable to women holding more jobs where one is more likely to stand, such as teaching and nursing, and due to pregnancy. If the itching and burning of becomes irritating and people want them addressed, spider vein treatment, including spider vein removal, may be a viable option.
Options for Spider Vein Treatment
The spider vein treatment options are nearly identical to those for varicose veins. Sclerotherapy is the most common treatment, where sclerosant is injected into the veins and closes them off, causing them to collapse. Another way to remove spider veins is through radiofrequency occlusion. During this treatment, a surgeon will insert a catheter into the damaged vein and then introduce radio frequency energy to the wall of the vein, where the energy will cause it to close up and collapse.
If you’d like an alternative to spider vein removal, one inexpensive treatment is to wear compression stockings. These stockings work very simply and do not cost a lot of money. They help to improve blood flow in the legs, which can help reduce the appearance of spider veins.
Sclerotherapy has a number of side effects that include spotting of the skin (this usually subsides within a week or so of treatment), stinging, and burning at the site of treatment. Radio frequency occlusion has a very low rate of side effects and most people can go back to work or resume normal activities after an hour or so. Anyone who considers treatments for the removal of spider veins should discuss the options and risks with their physician or skin care specialist to ensure the best treatment, and ultimately the smallest amount of discomfort and side effects.
Third party resources are provided for educational reference purposes only and have no association to The Derm Review. Always consult your medical advisor before making decisions.
Advanced Dermatology: Spider Veins