Spider Veins Overview
What are spider veins?
Spider veins are unhealthy veins just underneath the skin, most commonly located on the lower extremities. Spider veins are usually blue, red, or purple in color and are often found in clusters that spread outward. They may have a spidery appearance, giving them their name. Spider veins are often due to an underlying condition called chronic venous insufficiency. The medical term for spider veins is telangiactasias.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Spider veins are often due to poor circulation in the veins slightly deeper within the legs, a condition known as chronic venous insufficiency.
The primary task of the veins in the legs is to carry blood back up to the heart. Veins deep within the leg carry most of the blood, but a second set of veins closer to the skin, known as the saphenous or superficial veins, carry a minority of blood upwards. All of the veins in the legs use one-way doors called valves to help keep blood flowing in the correct direction. Blood flows up, against gravity, past a valve. Then the valve shuts, preventing the blood from falling back down to the feet. Due to a number of different factors, valves may become dysfunctional and allow blood to leak back downwards. The veins below the valve swell and bulge, and new veins (including spider veins) may form due to the elevated pressure in the superficial veins.
According to a research conducted by the Office on Women’s Health in America, more than 54 percent of women and 45 percent of men in the United States have spider or varicose veins.
Spider veins may be asymptomatic, or they can cause significant discomfort. Symptoms include restlessness, fatigue, heaviness, cramps, swelling and pain at the surface of the skin. Generally speaking, symptoms due to venous insufficiency and spider veins are worse with prolonged sitting or standing and improve with exercise.
Who is at Risk for Spider Veins?
Spider veins are predominantly found in adults, and the risk of spider veins increases with age. High estrogen levels increase the risk of spider veins, so they are more common in women than in men although both genders may be affected. Other risk factors include: pregnancy, obesity/overweight, hormone therapy (HT), a job that requires prolonged sitting/standing, leg injury, birth control pills, family history of vein disease and a history of blood clots.
Family history, or genetics is the single greatest risk factor. If your mother and father both had spider veins, you are at a 90% risk of developing chronic venous insufficiency.
What Causes Spider Veins?
Again the primary underlying cause of spider veins is chronic venous insufficiency, also known as vein disease. Increasing pressure in veins within the legs leads to the formation of new, unhealthy veins such as spider veins.
This process is a little bit like a leaky pipe within a wall, where the underlying veins are the leaky pipe and the spider veins are stains on the surface of the wall.
What are the symptoms of Spider Veins?
Spider veins often cause few symptoms beyond an undesirable cosmetic appearance. However, some individuals may experience severe symptoms including; heaviness, swelling, aching, throbbing, burning, itching, tingling, or cramping of the legs.
In more severe cases of vein disease, people may develop skin changes and ulcerations that heal poorly.
Spider Veins Treatments
How do Doctors Treat Spider Veins?
Spider veins don’t always require treatment, unless you’re experiencing pain or other severe symptoms. If you have severe symptoms or would like the veins to be removed for aesthetic reasons, vein doctors consider treatments such as sclerotherapy.
What is the Best Treatment for Spider Veins?
Treatment for spider veins is safe and effective. It’s important to remember that a comprehensive vein evaluation is necessary prior to treating spider veins. If you have underlying venous insufficiency, and you get spider vein treatment without addressing this problem, the spider veins will inevitably return.
Sclerotherapy: In this case of having severe symptoms of spider veins, the conservative treatments done at home will not yield the desired results. In this condition, more specialized medical procedures like Sclerotherapy may be required, depending on the size and location of the abnormal veins. This treatment is usually undertaken for cosmetic reasons. Sclerotherapy is a simple procedure that can be performed in your physician’s office. And is a very safe and effective means of eliminating spider veins.
Radiofrequency Ablation: Endovenous ablation with radiofrequency ablation is a minimally invasive treatment for chronic venous insufficiency. It is similar to laser ablation, but uses thermal energy instead of laser energy. Compared to laser ablation, radiofrequency ablation is typically associated with a lower amount of discomfort and bruising after the procedure.
Endоvеnоuѕ Lаѕеr: Endovenous Laser Treatment is used to treat underlying venous insufficiency. It is safer and easier than most vein surgery and can be performed on an outpatient basis with local anesthesia only.
Laser Therapy: Skin laser therapy is primarily used to diminish the appearance of spider veins. It works best on the smallest veins and is a good alternative to sclerotherapy or may be used in combination with sclerotherapy to optimize results. Certain skin types are not recommended for laser therapy and it does not have an impact on symptoms due to chronic venous insufficiency.
Daily Exercise: Daily exercise can help alleviate the symptoms of spider veins. Exercise causes the calf muscle to squeeze, pumping blood upwards toward the heart and improving the efficiency of circulation. Individuals with affected veins should avoid sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. Leg elevation above the level of the heart while sleeping or sitting can also improve circulation and decrease leg swelling.
Compression Stockings: The use of support stockings, also known as compression stockings, is a simple intervention that can be used at home. Compression stockings help push blood upwards towards the heart reducing the pressure in the leg veins. They do not improve the appearance of spider veins but may help alleviate symptoms.
Vein Treatment FAQ
Before any treatment is done, you will have a detailed outline of how much you will owe (if anything). We will work directly with your insurance company to help you get treated.
We work closely with insurance companies and you to ensure that there are no surprise bills or hidden costs.
What happens when spider veins are left untreated?
Do I need a physician referral?
What should I bring to my initial consultation?
2. Photo ID.
3. Complete medical history. List of all prescriptions and over-the counter medication that you are taking.
4. List of allergies, including food and medical.
Give us a call at 888-827-7441
Dr. Michael Nguyen
VENOUS SPECIALIST | Harvard Medical School
Dr. Michael Nguyen is a world renowned and Harvard trained vein specialist in Manhattan. He leads the team of vein doctors offering the highest level of care at the Spider and Varicose Vein Treatment Center.
As a pioneer in the treatment of varicose veins problems, Dr. Nguyen is considered a top vein expert for developing minimally invasive and customized treatment plans for the many symptoms of venous insufficiency, including leg cramps, skin discoloration on legs, spider vein removal, and restless leg syndrome.