Spider Veins Overview
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are dense clusters of unhealthy blood vessels visible just underneath the skin. They’re usually red, purple, or blue in color, and they expand outwards from a central location, usually on the lower extremities of the body, such as the legs. Although their medical term is “telangiactasias,” they’re popularly called spider veins because they resemble spider webs.
How are spider veins formed?
A dangerous circulatory disorder called chronic venous insufficiency is the root cause of spider veins. Leg veins are supposed to carry blood from various parts of the body to the heart, often defying the force of gravity by traveling upwards (from the legs to the heart). Healthy leg veins contain vein valves that ensure smooth one-way blood circulation, allowing blood to flow towards the heart but not backward. When your vein valves collapse (due to various factors), blood flows backward and accumulates in the leg veins. Over time, the accumulated blood applies pressure on the vein walls, making them swell and dilate, leading to the formation of spider veins.
Who is most likely to get spider veins?
Family history and genetic predisposition are the leading risk factors for spider veins. As such, you have a 90% risk of spider veins if your mother or father has a history of vein disease.
Age and sex are the next biggest risk factors for spider veins. Your risk of spider veins increases with age, and research conducted by the Office on Women’s Health in America shows that 54% of all women and 45% of all men get spider or varicose veins.
Since higher estrogen levels lead to a higher risk of spider veins, you also have a higher risk if you’re pregnant, undergoing hormone therapy, taking birth control pills, or other factors that affect your hormones.
Other risk factors for spider veins include a medical history of blood clots, leg injuries, obesity, and a job that involves long periods of sitting or standing still.
What’s the root cause of spider veins?
Chronic venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease, is the root cause of spider veins. The accumulation of blood in the leg veins leads to vein dilation and the eventual formation of spider veins.
This is similar to the relationship between leaky pipes and stains on walls — vein disease is the “leaky pipe,” and spider veins are the “stains.”
Do spider veins produce any symptoms?
Spider veins don’t produce any symptoms beyond poor cosmetic appearance and the resultant self-consciousness.
However, the underlying chronic venous insufficiency leads to several symptoms, such as leg heaviness, throbbing leg veins, restless leg syndrome, leg swelling, and itching, burning, or tingling sensations.
If left untreated, underlying vein disease may also cause skin changes, non-healing wounds called leg ulcers, and blood clots in the leg veins.
Is it necessary to treat spider veins?
Since spider veins don’t produce any symptoms of their own, you don’t have to seek spider vein treatment. You can opt for treatment if you experience any discomfort or want to improve your legs’ appearance, but it’s not necessary.
However, if you identify any of the signs or symptoms of venous insufficiency, such as leg heaviness, restless leg syndrome, varicose veins, etc., you must seek prompt diagnosis and vein treatment in Long Island. Chronic venous insufficiency, as mentioned earlier, is a dangerous circulatory disorder that progressively worsens with time. Furthermore, until you treat vein disease, your spider veins will keep returning.
What are my spider vein treatment options?
- Sclerotherapy: This is a minimally-invasive, in-office, and outpatient procedure for spider veins. Your vein doctor in LI will inject a special sclerosant medication into the spider veins to seal their walls and make them fade away.
- Radiofrequency Ablation: This procedure addresses the underlying chronic venous insufficiency responsible for spider veins. During an in-office and outpatient procedure, your LI vein doctor channels thermal energy via a catheter to close the diseased vein, restoring effective blood circulation to the heart. Radiofrequency ablation doesn’t cause any pain, discomfort, or unnecessary bruising.
- Endovenous Laser Ablation: This procedure also treats underlying venous insufficiency using a method similar to radiofrequency ablation. The vein doctor in Long Island uses laser energy to close the diseased vein and restore effective blood circulation to the heart. However, endovenous laser ablation involves more post-procedural discomfort and bruising.
- Laser Therapy: Laser therapy is a cosmetic treatment that diminishes the visibility of the smallest spider veins. It can be performed with or instead of sclerotherapy, but it has several limitations. Skin laser therapy is only suitable for the smallest spider veins, it works only on some skin types, and it can’t treat the symptoms of vein disease.
- Daily Exercise: Exercises like running, swimming, and cycling activate your calf muscles, pushing the accumulated blood towards the heart. As such, cardiovascular exercise alleviates the discomfort caused by spider veins and vein disease. However, it’s worth noting that daily exercise only provides temporary relief from the symptoms — it doesn’t remove the spider veins or treat the underlying vein disease.
- Compression Stockings: Compression stockings are tight-fitting garments that squeeze your legs and veins, pumping the accumulated blood towards the heart. As such, they temporarily reduce the symptoms of vein disease, but they can’t treat or remove the spider veins. You must get custom-fitted compression stockings from a vein treatment center in NY for optimal results and effectiveness.